China has denounced as “provocative” the passage of a US warship through the strategically-sensitive Taiwan Strait, which separates the self-ruled Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) from mainland China.
In a statement on Saturday, the US Navy's 7th Fleet said that Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson was conducting a “routine” transit through international waters.
“The ship's transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States' commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows,” said the fleet’s spokesman Nicholas Lingo.
American warships periodically carry out such voyages through the strait, often drawing angry responses from China, which has sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan.
Later in the day, the Eastern Theatre Command of China's People's Liberation Army said in a statement that it had monitored the passage, calling it a “provocative act” by Washington.
Under the “One China” policy, almost all world countries recognize that sovereignty.
The US, too, recognizes Chinese sovereignty over the island, but in an attempted affront to China and in violation of its own official policy, America constantly sells weapons to the island, bypassing Beijing, and avidly backs its secessionist president Tsai Ing-wen, besides the deployment of military vessels to the Taiwan Strait.
Beijing, which has repeatedly warned the US against official ties with Taiwan, says the US contacts with Taiwan and the weapon sales to the island are a violation of China’s sovereignty.
Last year, American naval ships sailed through the Strait roughly monthly. Saturday's passage was the first since November.