BEIJING (REUTERS) - The United States often sends ships and aircraft into the South China Sea to "flex its muscles" and this is not good for peace, China's Foreign Ministry said on Monday (Jan 25), after a US aircraft carrier group sailed into the disputed waterway.
The strategic South China Sea, through which trillions of dollars in trade flows each year, has long been a focus of contention between Beijing and Washington, with China particularly angered by US military activity there.
The US carrier group led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt and accompanied by three warships, entered the waterway on Saturday to promote "freedom of the seas", the US military said, just days after Mr Joe Biden became US president.
"The United States frequently sends aircraft and vessels into the South China Sea to flex its muscles," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters, responding to the US mission.
"This is not conducive to peace and stability in the region."
China has repeatedly complained about US Navy ships getting close to islands it occupies in the South China Sea, where Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan all have competing claims.
The carrier group entered the South China Sea at the same time as Chinese-claimed Taiwan reported incursions by Chinese air force jets into the southwestern part of its air defence identification zone, prompting concern from Washington.
China has not commented on what its air force was doing, and Mr Zhao referred questions to the defence ministry.
He reiterated China's position that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and that the United States should abide by the"one China" principle.
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen visited a radar base in the north of the island on Monday, and praised its ability to track Chinese forces, her office said.
"From last year until now, our radar station has detected nearly 2,000 communist aircraft and more than 400 communist ships, allowing us to quickly monitor and drive them away, and fully guard the sea and airspace," she told officers.
Mr Biden's new administration says the US commitment to Taiwan is "rock solid".
The United States, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but is the democratic island's most important international backer and main arms supplier, to China's anger.