U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte has criticized Taiwan's plan to hold a referendum on joining the United Nations as "provocative".
Negroponte was speaking in Beijing Thursday a day after meeting senior Chinese officials, who urged Washington to strongly oppose Taiwan's referendum plan.
Negroponte said it would be a mistake for Taiwan to hold the referendum, echoing similar comments made last month by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party has said it will hold a referendum alongside presidential elections in March on joining the U.N. under the name "Taiwan".
China fears the referendum is a step toward formal independence for Taiwan, a move that Beijing has vowed to oppose by force, if necessary.
Taiwan lost its U.N. seat to China in 1971 and its repeated attempts to rejoin the world body have been blocked by Beijing.
Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979 and adopted Beijing's "one China" policy. But, the U.S. government is obliged by law to defend Taiwan in case of attack.