Taiwan Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said on Friday he was "not very certain" about a reported upcoming visit by a senior Pentagon official, a rare trip that would most likely further inflame China-U.S. relations.

The Financial Times, citing sources, said the Pentagon's top China official, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Chase, would soon visit Taiwan, at a time of rising military tensions between Beijing and Taipei.

Chiu, asked whether Chase would be coming, said "those who are friendly to us" are very welcome.

"But so far it is not very certain," he told reporters on the sidelines of a parliament session.

"I won't explain the details," he said. "I won't explain until I get formal notification."

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Chase would be the most senior U.S. defence official to visit the island since 2019.

China and the United States are involved in a bitter dispute over the U.S. military's shooting down of what it called a Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina this month. China says the balloon was for monitoring weather.

China, which views Taiwan as its own territory, has repeatedly demanded that foreign officials not visit the democratically governed island.

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin reiterated that the government was firmly opposed to official interactions and military ties between the United States and Taiwan.

China staged war games near Taiwan last August to express its anger at a Taipei visit by then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Although the United States, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, it is the island's most important arms supplier and the two have a close security relationship, with U.S. defence officials on occasion visiting.

In 2020, a two-star Navy admiral overseeing U.S. military intelligence in the Asia-Pacific region made an unannounced visit to Taiwan. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Joe Cash in Beijing. Editing by Gerry Doyle)