Beijing blames US for tensions over Taiwan

BEIJING • Beijing blamed the United States yesterday for tensions over Taiwan after a US warship sailed close to the Chinese-claimed island, asking rhetorically whether China would sail in the Gulf of Mexico as a "show of strength".

The democratically run island has complained of repeated military activities by Beijing in recent months, with China's air force making almost daily forays into Taiwan's air defence identification zone.

On Monday, China said an aircraft carrier group was exercising close to the island, and on Wednesday, a US warship sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait that separates the island from its giant neighbour.

Speaking at a daily news briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said US ships engaging in "provocations" are sending "a seriously wrong signal to the forces of Taiwan independence, threatening peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait".

"Would a Chinese warship go to the Gulf of Mexico to make a show of strength?" he added.

In 2015, five Chinese Navy ships sailed in international waters in the Bering Sea off Alaska, in an apparent first for China's military that came as then US President Barack Obama toured the US state.

The US Navy has been regularly conducting what it calls "routine" transits of the Taiwan Strait.

Washington has expressed its concern about a pattern of Chinese intimidation efforts in the region, including towards Taiwan, reiterating that the US commitment to Taiwan is "rock solid".

China believes the United States is colluding with Taiwan to challenge Beijing and giving support to those who want the island to declare formal independence.

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen says it is already an independent country called the Republic of China, the island's official name.

Taiwan is China's most sensitive territorial issue and a major bone of contention between Beijing and Washington.

The widely read Chinese state-backed tabloid Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, said yesterday that China's carrier group had been drilling near Taiwan "amid US provocations".

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2021, with the headline 'Beijing blames US for tensions over Taiwan'. Subscribe