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China censures US reconnaissance plane flight over Taiwan Strait

File photo of a US P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft

China has censured the United States after one of its maritime patrol and reconnaissance planes crossed the airspace over the sensitive Taiwan Strait, which separates China from Taiwan. 

The Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft transited the waterway on Thursday, the US Seventh Fleet said in a statement, claiming the anti-submarine plane transited in international airspace to demonstrate what it called "the United States' commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific."

In response, Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China condemned the provocative move, saying "the US side hyped it publicly."

"The troops of the PLA Eastern Theater Command have tracked and monitored the US aircraft in the whole course, and handled it in line with laws and regulations," said Army Senior Colonel Shi Yi, spokesperson for the Chinese PLA Eastern Theater Command.

The colonel said the troops of the PLA Eastern Theater Command remain on high alert at all times to resolutely safeguard China's sovereignty, security and regional stability.

Separately, spokesman  of Taiwan's ministry of national defense, Major General Sun Li-fang, said at a press conference that the American aircraft, coming from the north, flew southbound along the Taiwan Strait's median line.

China has sovereignty over self-ruled Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), and under the “One China” policy, virtually all world countries recognize that sovereignty, saying the island is part of China’s territory awaiting reunification.

The US, too, recognizes Chinese sovereignty over the island but has long courted Taipei in an attempt to counter Beijing.

Washington has no formal diplomatic relations with Taipei by law, but remains the island’s largest weapons supplier and an avid backer of Taiwan's secessionist President Tsai Ing-wen, generating increasing tensions with Beijing over trade and a host of other issues.

The US almost regularly makes provocative moves around the self-governed island, particularly by sailing its warships through the sensitive and strategic Taiwan Strait.

Back in June, US and Canadian warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait in a joint mission, which Beijing slammed as "intentionally creating trouble" in the area.

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