China on Tuesday protested a U.S. naval warship’s passage through the Taiwan Strait, saying the action threatens regional stability.
The U.S. 7th Fleet said Monday that it sent Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius to conduct a “routine Taiwan Strait transit” on Tuesday (local time) through international waters in accordance with international law.
“The ship's transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the statement said. “The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows.”
The Chinese military's Eastern Theater Command sent naval and air forces to "conduct close-in tracking and monitoring" of the warship while on course, Senior Col. Shi Yi, a spokesperson for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command, said in a statement.
Shi said the U.S.’s action “created security risks and undermined regional stability,” adding that the Eastern Theater Command will “take all measures necessary to resolutely counter all threats and provocations and safeguard China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
U.S. warships have frequently travelled through the Taiwan Strait. These actions have angered Beijing, which has accused Washington of increasing tensions.
Last month, the U.S. military sent Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Dewey through the Strait.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters on Tuesday that the U.S.’s warship have repeatedly “flexed muscles, made provocations and stirred up trouble in the Taiwan Strait in the name of ‘freedom of navigation.’ “
“China is firmly resolved in upholding national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Zhao continued. “The US side should immediately correct its mistakes, stop making provocations, challenging the bottom line and playing with fire, and play a more constructive role in regional peace and stability.”
China claims Taiwan as its own territory, and in recent months has made displays of force to underline that claim, sending dozens of military aircraft Taiwan’s air defense identification zone.
Last week, in a virtual meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, President BidenJoe BidenHouse passes 8B defense policy bill House approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike Senate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale MORE reiterated the U.S.’s commitment to the “one China” policy, under which the U.S. recognizes Taiwan as part of China. The U.S. is also committed to providing Taiwan with arms for its defense under the Taiwan Relations Act.