A United States warship has sailed through the Taiwan Strait in what the country’s navy described as a routine transit, just days after China ended its latest war games around the island.
In a statement on Monday, the US Navy’s 7th Fleet said the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday.
The warship conducted a “routine Taiwan Strait transit” through waters “where high-seas freedoms of navigation and overflight apply in accordance with international law”, it said.
The ship’s transit demonstrates Washington’s commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, it added.
China said on Monday that it had tracked a US warship through the Taiwan Strait, adding that Washington had “hyped up” the transit.
Colonel Shi Yi, a Chinese military spokesman, said troops in the area “remain on a high level of alert at all times and will resolutely defend national sovereignty and security as well as regional peace and stability”.
China claims Taiwan as its territory and has vowed to bring the island under its control one day. It also claims the entire Taiwan Strait as its territorial waters.
It officially ended its three days of exercises around Taiwan last Monday, where it practised precision strikes and blockading the island.
It staged the drills to express anger at Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting with US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy, viewing it as an interference in China’s internal affairs and US support for Taiwan’s separate identity from China.
The US Navy sails warships through the Taiwan Strait around once a month, and also regularly conducts similar freedom of navigation missions in the disputed South China Sea.
Last week, the USS Milius sailed near one of the most important man-made and Chinese-controlled islands in the South China Sea, Mischief Reef.
Beijing denounced it as illegal.
China has continued its military activities around Taiwan since the drills ended, though on a reduced scale.
On Monday morning, Taiwan’s defence ministry said it had spotted 18 Chinese military aircraft and four naval vessels operating around Taiwan in the previous 24-hour period.
China has never renounced the use of force to bring democratically governed Taiwan under its control.
Taiwan’s government rejects China’s territorial claims and says only the island’s people can decide their future.
Source : Al Jazeera