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FILE PHOTO: A double rainbow is seen behind Taiwanese flag during the National Day celebrations in Taipei, Taiwan, October 10, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Taiwan will fail in its efforts to get foreign support for its cause, the Chinese government said on Wednesday after a senior Chinese diplomat threaten Taiwan would be attacked the instant any U.S. warship visits the self-ruled island.

China considers Taiwan to be a wayward province and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control. The United States has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help it defend itself and is its main source of arms.

Beijing regularly calls Taiwan the most sensitive and important issue between it and the United States. In September, the U.S. Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2018 fiscal year, which authorises mutual visits by navy vessels between Taiwan and the United States.

That prompted a senior U.S.-based Chinese diplomat to say last week that China would attack Taiwan the instant any U.S. navy vessel visited Taiwan.

Asked about the remarks at a regular news briefing, An Fengshan, spokesman for China's policy-making Taiwan Affairs Office, said Taiwan was an internal matter for China and that China opposed any form of military contacts between Taipei and Washington.

"What I want to stress and point out is that any relying on foreigners to build oneself up or plots to harm national sovereignty and territorial integrity will be opposed by the entire Chinese nation, and cannot succeed," An said.

China suspects Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who leads the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, wants to declare the island's formal independence. Tsai says she wants to maintain peace with China but will defend Taiwan's security.

The Chinese air force has this year carried out a series of drills near to Taiwan, prompting Taiwan to scramble jets to shadow them.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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Reuters