The Chinese defence ministry on Saturday protested against the passage of two US warships through the Taiwan Strait, saying it had closely monitored them and is maintaining a state of high alert.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) also continued to conduct military exercises near the coast of self-ruled democracy Taiwan, which Beijing says is a renegade region to be unified if required by force.
A US warship and a Coast Guard cutter sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Friday, the latest instance of what Washington calls routine operations through the sensitive waterway that separates Taiwan from China.
The passage comes amid a spike in military tensions in the past two years between Taiwan and China, and follows Chinese “assault drills” held near Taiwan last week for which the PLA deployed battle ships and fighter jets.
“The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100) and legend-class US Coast Guard National Security Cutter Munro (WMSL 755) conducted routine Taiwan Strait transits August 27 (local time) through international waters in accordance with international law,” Lt Mark Langford, 7th Fleet spokesperson said late on Friday.
“The ships’ lawful transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows,” the statement added.
The Chinese defence minister reacted angrily against the US move on Saturday morning.
A statement posted on the ministry’s website on Saturday called the move provocative. It added that the passage of the ships showed that the United States is the biggest threat to peace and stability and creator of security risks in the 160km wide Taiwan Strait. “We express firm opposition and strong condemnation.”
The PLA Eastern Theatre Command organised forces, tracked and monitored the USS Kidd guided missile destroyer and the USCGC Munro cutter when the two made a transit in the Taiwan Straits on Friday, defence ministry spokesperson, Colonel Tan Kefei, said.
Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, and the Taiwan-issue is purely China’s internal affair, and no foreign interference is allowed. “We ask the US to recognise the situation, stop provocative actions, abide by the one-China principle and the three Sino-US joint communiqués, and refrain from creating obstacles to the relations between the two militaries of China and the US, which undermines peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. The Chinese military maintains a high level of alert at all times and resolutely defends national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” it said,
Friday’s passage marked the eighth time the US has sent warships through the Taiwan Straits and the first time a US Coast Guard vessel has been featured since Joe Biden assumed US presidency this year, Taiwanese media reported on Saturday.
Taiwanese media also reported that on Friday, PLA’s A Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft and two Z-8 helicopters entered the island of Taiwan’s southwest air defence identification zone, with the Z-8 choppers flying close to the southern edge of the Taiwan Straits.
In a separate statement, the PLA Eastern Theatre Command said it deployed forces from multiple military services including warships, fighter bombers and fighter jets in joint patrol and sea assault drills in the East China Sea on Friday.
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