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US warship sails through Taiwan Strait amid rising tensions with China

The USS Chung-Hoon passes the USS Arizona Memorial during ceremonies honoring the 73rd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument in Honolulu, Hawaii December 7, 2014.(Reuters file photo)

A US warship on Thursday sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait, prompting strong criticism from Beijing amid frayed ties between the two countries.

The US Army announced in a statement that the transit was carried out by a guided missile destroyer of the Arleigh Burke class.

"Chung-Hoon’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific," Lt. Kristina Wiedemann, a spokesperson for the US Navy said in a statement.

“The United States military flies, sails and operates anywhere international law allows.”

The Arleigh-Burke class destroyer is part of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group deployed to the US 7th Fleet in Bahrain.

The Chinese embassy in Washington, however, said the voyage was to "flex muscles", accusing the US of "undermining peace and stability".

Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the embassy, said China firmly opposes the move and urged the United States to "immediately stop provoking troubles, escalating tensions and undermining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait."

"US warships frequently flex muscles in the name of exercising freedom of navigation. This is not about keeping the region free and open," the statement said.

"China will continue to stay on high alert and is ready to respond to all threats and provocations at any time, and will resolutely safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity." 

The Chinese authorities have declared full readiness to respond to any threat and provocation and defend their national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

A spokesman of the Eastern Theater Command of the People's Liberation Army of China also said that it has organized forces to monitor and protect the ship's transit and that “all movements are under control”.

Taiwan's Ministry of Defense said the ship had passed through the strait in a northerly direction, where its forces had been monitoring its passage and had not observed anything unusual.


In recent years, warships of the US and allied countries such as Britain and Canada have passed through the strait, which has angered China.

A Chinese military aircraft came within 10 feet (3 meters) of a US Air Force aircraft in the South China Sea last month, forcing it to perform evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision in international airspace.

Meanwhile, The head of the German parliament's defense committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, said on Tuesday that officials from the Free Democratic Party (FDP), a junior partner in Germany's coalition government, planned the trip to the self-ruled island.

The trip will follow a visit by German Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger in the spring, the first by a member of the German cabinet in 26 years.

Strack-Zimmermann said the delegation would meet with representatives of the Chinese Taipei government and the opposition as well as human rights organizations, business leaders and members of the military during its stay from Monday to Thursday.

The year 2022 saw a spike in tensions as Beijing launched its largest war games in decades following a visit to the self-ruled island in August by then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has already made it clear that he is “prepared to resolve the conflict over the role of Taiwan also with military means.”

Ahead of the G20 Summit in Indonesia in December, Xi told US President Joe Biden the issue of Taipei is China’s “first red line” in bilateral relations, warning that Washington must not cross the line.

The United States, though professing adherence to the principle, has long courted Taipei and sells weapons to the self-governed island in an attempted affront to Beijing. Some US allies in Europe, in particular, have also been increasing visits to Taipei, despite strong objections by Beijing.

China has sovereignty over Chinese Taipei, and under the 'One China' policy, almost all world countries recognize that sovereignty, meaning they would not establish direct diplomatic contact with the self-proclaimed government in Taipei.

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