China says US 'creating tensions' after warship sails near Taiwan

China, which claims democratically run Taiwan as its own territory, has been angered by increased US support for the island.
China, which claims democratically run Taiwan as its own territory, has been angered by increased US support for the island.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS) - The United States is deliberately "creating tensions" and disrupting peace and stability, China's military said, after a US warship sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait, the first such mission under the new Biden administration.

China, which claims democratically run Taiwan as its own territory, has been angered by increased US support for the island, including arms sales and sending warships through the Taiwan Strait, further souring Beijing-Washington relations.

The US Navy said the guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain had "conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit Feb 4 in accordance with international law". Taiwan's Defence Ministry described it as a "normal" mission.

In a statement late on Thursday (Feb 4), the Eastern Theatre Command of China's People's Liberation Army said its forces had followed and tracked the ship.

"The US move is a repeat of its old trick of 'mixed manipulation' of the situation across the Taiwan Strait, deliberately creating tensions and disrupting regional peace and stability. We are resolutely opposed to this," it said.

"No matter how the situation in the Taiwan Strait changes, theatre troops will loyally perform their duties and mission, resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity." Last year the US Navy sailed through the narrow Taiwan Strait 13 times.

US President Joe Biden's government has been keen to demonstrate its support for Taiwan, calling their commitment to the island "rock solid".

Last month Taiwan reported Chinese fighter jets and bombers had flown into the southwestern corner of its air defence identification zone, coinciding with a US carrier strike group entering the disputed South China Sea.

The US military said those Chinese military flights fitted a pattern of destabilising and aggressive behaviour by Beijing but posed no threat to the aircraft carrier group.