China accused the United States on Wednesday of provocation and threatening the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait as the United States Navy again sent a warship through the sensitive Taiwan Strait on Tuesday.
The U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet said the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur conducted a “routine Taiwan Strait transit” on Tuesday in accordance with international law.
It said, “The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. PLA Eastern Theatre Command Spokesman Senior Colonel Zhang Chunhui on Wednesday called the latest passage through the strait “a provocation”, which comes amid heightened tensions between the two countries.
“The US move sends the wrong signals to Taiwanese independence-leaning forces, deliberately disrupting and sabotaging the regional situation and endangering peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” he said. China believes Taiwan’s democratically elected government is bent on a formal declaration of independence for the island, a red line for Beijing. Beijing sees self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory and has not renounced the use of force to bring it under its control.
The U.S. Navy has been conducting such operations every month or so and PLA has been issuing a warning in response.
The PLA’s Eastern Theatre Command – which is responsible for the east coast and the strait that separates mainland China from Taiwan – made a similar statement after the US sent the USS John Finn guided-missile destroyer through the waterway in March. Analysts said, such repeated actions from both sides are becoming new norm and were raising the risk of conflict given the tensions and lack of communications between the two sides.
The United States, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but is its most important international supporter and a major seller of arms. Military tension between Taiwan and Beijing have spiked over the past year, with Taipei accusing China of repeatedly sending its air force into Taiwan’s air defence zone. China has said its activities around Taiwan are aimed at protecting China’s sovereignty which Taiwan has denounced and termed as attempts at intimidation.