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China slams US warships’ passage through Taiwan Strait

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows the guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain.

China has slammed the sailing of two US warships through the strategic Taiwan Strait, which separates Taiwan from mainland China, calling the move a provocation.

On Thursday, the guided-missile destroyers USS John S. McCain and USS Curtis Wilbur passed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait, the US Navy said in a statement, claiming that the military vessels had conducted a “routine… transit… in accordance with international law.”

Later in the day, a Chinese military spokesperson denounced the US sailings through the strait, the second such missions by the US this month and the 13th so far this year, warning Washington against jeopardizing peace and stability in the sensitive waterway.

“The move by the US warships has sent a wrong signal to separatist elements advocating ‘Taiwan independence’ and seriously endangered peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” said Wu Qian, the spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, Xinhua reported.

Beijing has sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan, and under the “One China” policy, almost all world countries recognize that sovereignty.

The US, too, recognizes Chinese sovereignty over the island but it constantly sells weapons to the island, bypassing Beijing, and avidly backs its secessionist president Tsai Ing-wen.

Beijing says the US contacts with Taiwan and the weapon sales to the island are a violation of China’s sovereignty.

Wu also condemned the Thursday sailing of the US warships as a “provocation,” adding that Chinese ships and aircraft trailed the US ships.

“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army maintains a high level of alert at all times, responds to all threats and provocations at all times, and resolutely defends national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.

Taiwan is one of a number of sticking points in the US-China relationship, which also includes a persisting trade war initiated by the US.

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