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Passage of US destroyer through Taiwan Strait endangers peace, stability: China

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 American guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain.

China has censured the passage of a US destroyer through the Taiwan Strait, warning that the move would endanger peace and stability in the strategic region.

Zhang Chunhui, a spokesman for the Eastern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), announced in a statement on Thursday that China had tracked and monitored the guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain during its passage through the waterway.

Zhang said the US move sent the “wrong signal” to Chinese Taipei’s government and “willfully disrupted the regional situation by endangering peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

China firmly opposes the move and Chinese forces will respond with “strict precautions and vigilance,” he added.

The US Navy responded to China’s protest, claiming in a statement that its destroyer “conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit April 7 (local time) through international waters in accordance with international law.”

American warships periodically carry out such voyages through the strait, drawing reactions from China, which has sovereignty over the self-ruled Chinese Taipei. Under the “One China” policy, almost all world countries recognize that sovereignty.

The US, too, recognizes Chinese sovereignty over Chinese Taipei, but in an attempted affront to China and in violation of its own official policy, America constantly bypasses Beijing to sell weapons to the island and stage the shows of military force.

The passage of the US destroyer through the Taiwan Strait follows Chinas announcement Monday that its aircraft carrier Liaoning and five associated vessels were holding drills near Chinese Taipei.

China also sent Liaoning and the five escort ships through the Miyako Strait near Japans Okinawa over the weekend in what was described as a signal of its growing ability to counter American and Japanese military power amid rising tensions with Washington.

Meanwhile, the US Navy announced on Saturday that the carrier Theodore Roosevelt and its strike group had re-entered the South China Sea to conduct what it claimed were “routine operations,” the second time the strike group has sailed near the disputed islands in the region this year.

China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam have competing territorial claims in the South China Sea, a key global trading route that is also rich in natural resources.

The US sides with Beijing’s opponents in the territorial dispute and regularly dispatches warships and warplanes to the South China Sea to conduct what it calls “freedom of navigation” patrols.

Ties between the US and China have hit the lowest in decades as the two sides are at loggerheads over a host of issues, including trade, a new security law introduced in Hong Kong, the origins and handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Chinese Taipei, and the disputed South China Sea.

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