China says US threatening peace as warship transits Taiwan Strait

File photo. The guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur sails into Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong, China, 21 November 2018. [Jerome Favre/EPA/EFE]

China accused the United States on Wednesday (19 May) of threatening the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait after a US warship again sailed through the sensitive waterway that separates Taiwan from its giant neighbour.

The US Navy’s 7th Fleet said the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur conducted a “routine Taiwan Strait transit” on Tuesday in accordance with international law.

“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait 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,” it said.

A spokesman for China’s Eastern Theatre Command expressed strong opposition and condemned the move, which comes amid heightened tensions between the two powers.

“The US actions sends the wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces, deliberately disrupting the regional situation and endangering peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” he said.

Chinese forces tracked and monitored the ship throughout its voyage, he added.

China believes Taiwan’s democratically elected government is bent on a formal declaration of independence for the island, a red line for Beijing.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen says they are already an independent state called the Republic of China, its formal name.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said the US ship had sailed in a southerly direction through the strait and the “situation was as normal”.

The US Navy has been conducting such operations every month or so.

The United States, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but is its most important international backer and a major seller of arms.

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The United States plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems, including mines, cruise missiles and drones to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said, as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China.

Military tension between Taiwan and Beijing have spiked over the past year, with Taipei complaining of China repeatedly sending its air force into Taiwan’s air defence zone.

China says carrier group exercising near Taiwan, drills will become regular

A Chinese carrier group is exercising near Taiwan and such drills will become regular, China’s navy said late on Monday (5 April) in a further escalation of tensions near the island that Beijing claims as its sovereign territory.

Some of those activities can involve multiple fighters and bombers.

China has said its activities around Taiwan are aimed at protecting China’s sovereignty. Taiwan’s government has denounced it as attempts at intimidation.

Taiwan says will fight to the end if China attacks

Taiwan will fight to the end if China attacks, its foreign minister said, adding that the United States saw a danger that this could happen amid mounting Chinese military pressure, including aircraft carrier drills, near the island.

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