China fumes as US warships transit Taiwan Strait


It was the first time the US military sent warships through the strategic waterway since US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan on August 2…reports Asian Lite News

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Monday denounced the passage of two US Navy warships through the Taiwan Strait, calling it a “provocation” aimed at “sabotaging regional peace and stability”.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Washington must observe the “One China” policy, which is the position that there is only one Chinese government.

Taiwan has had an independent government since 1949, but China considers the democratic island part of its territory and opposes any form of official contacts between Taiwan and others.

On Sunday, the guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam and USS Chancellorsville made a “routine” mission through international waters, the US Navy’s 7th Fleet said.

“The ship’s 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 said.

It was the first time the US military sent warships through the strategic waterway since US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan on August 2.

The brief visit, during which Pelosi pledged Washington’s solidarity, drew the ire of the leadership in Beijing.

In response, the Chinese military held large-scale manoeuvres around the island.

In a statement, the US Navy said the transit “demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Tensions in the Taiwan Strait soared to their highest level in years this month after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei.

Beijing reacted furiously, staging days of air and sea exercises around Taiwan. Taipei condemned the drills and missile tests as preparation for an invasion.

Taiwan lives under constant threat of an invasion by China, which claims the self-ruled, democratic island as part of its territory to be seized one day — by force if necessary.

Washington diplomatically recognizes Beijing over Taipei, but maintains de facto relations with Taiwan and supports the island’s right to decide its own future.

The US Seventh Fleet said the pair of Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers — the USS Antietam and the USS Chancellorsville — conducted the “routine” transit on Sunday “through waters where high seas freedoms of navigation and overflight apply in accordance with international law.”

“These ships transited through a corridor in the Strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal State,” a statement said.

“The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows.”

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said the US had “openly hyped up” the ships’ passage through the Strait.

“The PLA Eastern Theatre Command is following and warning the US vessels throughout their entire journey, and is aware of all movements,” spokesman Senior Col. Shi Yi said.

“Troops in the (eastern) theater remain on high alert and are prepared at all times to foil any provocations.”

Taiwan’s defense ministry confirmed a pair of warships sailed from north to south through the channel.

“During their southward journey through the Taiwan Strait, the military is fully monitoring relevant movements in our surrounding sea and airspace, and the situation is normal.”

“The USS Antietam and the USS Chancellorsville, two US guided-missile cruisers, sailed through the Taiwan Strait on August 28 and hyped it up publicly, the Eastern Theatre Command (ETC) of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said on Sunday.

The ETC conducted security tracking and monitoring of the US warships’ passage in the whole course and had all movements of the two US warships under control, Senior Colonel Shi Yi, spokesperson for the ETC, said in a statement.

The troops of the PLA Eastern Theatre Command always stay on high alert and get ready to thwart any provocation, he added.

Criticising the American naval ships transit through the island, a write-up in the state-run Global Times said the US is trying to appease the Taiwan authorities and regional allies, conveying to them that Washington will not back down under military pressure from the Chinese mainland.

This is the first time the US warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait, a busy and strategic waterway separating China and Taiwan, after Pelosi’s visit though according to the official media accounts here over 100 American warships transited through the water since 2012, challenging China’s claims over the area.

The US has been conducting similar naval and aerial expeditions in the disputed South China Sea to assert freedom of navigation, countering Beijing’s claims over most of the area.

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counterclaims over the South China Sea.

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