China raps US after warship passes through Taiwan Strait

TAIPEI • China accused the United States yesterday of playing a dangerous game with its support for Taiwan, after a US warship passed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait following heightened tensions between China and Taiwan.

China has been angered by the Trump administration's stepped-up support for the island it considers its own, such as more arms sales and US patrols near Taiwan.

Lieutenant Anthony Junco, a spokesman for the US Seventh Fleet, said the guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell conducted "a routine Taiwan Strait transit" on Wednesday, in line with international law.

"The ship's transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific," he said.

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

Taiwan's Defence Ministry said the ship sailed north through the waterway and was monitored by Taiwan's armed forces, on what it called an "ordinary mission".

In Beijing, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang denounced "continued negative actions" by the US on Taiwan, including sailings through and flights over the Taiwan Strait.

"US moves have seriously interfered in China's internal affairs, severely harmed peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and poisoned Sino-US military ties," Mr Ren said.

Taiwan is China's most sensitive territorial and diplomatic issue, and Beijing has never ruled out the use of force to bring the island under its control.

In recent weeks, China's air force has held several exercises close to Taiwan, prompting the island's mostly US-equipped military to scramble fighters to intercept and warn away the Chinese aircraft.

Taiwan has called the drills provocative.

"Everyone knows that although at present there is an intense epidemic situation, the Chinese communists' military aircraft continue to harass Taiwan," Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said during a military base visit on Tuesday. "Their threat to Taiwan and regional security has not gone down."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2020, with the headline 'China raps US after warship passes through Taiwan Strait'. Print Edition | Subscribe