China expresses concern to US over Taiwan Strait warship operation

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday (Oct 23) said it has expressed deep concern to the United States after Washington sent two warships through the Taiwan Strait in the second such operation this year.

Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying made the comments at a daily news briefing in Beijing.

China claims democratic and self-ruled Taiwan as its own.

The US sent two warships through the Taiwan Strait on Monday in the second such operation this year, as the US military increases the frequency of transits through the strategic waterway despite opposition from China.

The voyage risks further heightening tensions with China but will likely be viewed in self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support by President Donald Trump's government, amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing.

Reuters was first to report US consideration of the sensitive operation on Saturday.

"The ships' transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific," Commander Nate Christensen, deputy spokesman for US Pacific Fleet, said in a statement.

"The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows," he added.

Taiwan's Defence Ministry said it closely monitored the operation and was able to "maintain the security of the seas and the airspace" as it occurred.

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