‘Sending wrong signals’: China protests US Navy passage in Taiwan Strait

Beijing: China has protested against the latest passage by a US Navy ship through the Taiwan Strait, calling it a provocation that undermined peace and stability in the region.

The US Navy’s 7th Fleet said that the guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit on Tuesday in accordance with international law. The passage “demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific”.

“The United States military will continue to fly, sail, and operate anywhere international law allows,” the Navy said in a statement.

A US Navy guided missile destroyer in the Taiwan Strait, December 30, 2020. Credit:AP

While the strait is in international waters, China claims self-governing Taiwan as its own territory and regards the US Navy’s presence in the area as a show of support for the island’s democratic government.

In a statement on the Defence Ministry website on Wednesday, spokesperson for the Eastern Theater Command Colonel Zhang Chunhui said the US actions were “sending wrong signals to the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces, deliberately disrupting and sabotaging the regional situation and endangering peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

He said Chinese forces tracked and monitored the ship and “strictly guarded against all threats and provocations”.

China last month complained that activity by US military ships and surveillance planes directed at it has increased significantly under President Joe Biden.

It was particularly disturbed by close-in observation of the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning and its battle group by a U.S. destroyer in the South China Sea, as advertised by a widely distributed photo of US officers relaxing on deck with the Chinese flattop well within sight.

China accused the U.S. of having “seriously interfered with the Chinese side’s training activities and seriously threatened the safety of navigation and personnel on the both sides.”

AP

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