On Thursday, a US warship traveled across the critical Taiwan Strait, part of what the US Navy says is normal action but has enraged China.
In recent years, US warships, as well as those from other nations such as the United Kingdom and Canada, have gone through the strait, attracting the ire of China, which claims Taiwan despite the democratically elected government’s objections.
The transit was carried out by the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Chung-Hoon, according to a statement from the US military.
“Chung-Hoon’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the statement added.
Liu Pengyu, the spokesman for China’s embassy in Washington, said in a statement that China strongly opposes the decision and urged the US to “immediately stop creating trouble, raising tensions, and endangering peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
“US warships frequently flex muscles in the name of exercising freedom of navigation. This is not about keeping the region free and open,” the statement said.
“China will continue to stay on high alert and is ready to respond to all threats and provocations at any time, and will resolutely safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
A spokeswoman for the Eastern Theatre Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army claimed it organized troops to monitor and secure the ship’s transit, and “all movements were under control”.
According to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry, the ship went north via the strait, and its personnel monitored its transit and saw nothing unusual.
Since the defeated Republic of China government retreated to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war with the communists, who founded the People’s Republic of China, the narrow Taiwan Strait has been a recurrent source of military conflict.
Last month, a Chinese military plane flew within 10 feet of a US air force plane in the contentious South China Sea, forcing it to perform evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision in international airspace.
The close encounter was the result of what the US has described as a recent trend of increasingly risky activity by Chinese military aircraft. The US has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but is required by law to assist the island with weapons of self-defense.
China has never ruled out using force to seize control of Taiwan. Taiwan promises to defend itself if attacked, claiming that Beijing’s claims to sovereignty are invalid because the People’s Republic of China has never administered the island.