China yesterday accused the US of playing a dangerous game with its support for Taiwan, after a US warship passed through Taiwan Strait.
China has been angered by the administration of US President Donald Trump stepping up support for the nation, such as through more arms sales, US patrols near Taiwan and last month’s visit to Washington by former premier and vice president-elect William Lai (賴清德).
US Seventh Fleet spokesman Lieutenant Anthony Junco said the guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell conducted “a routine Taiwan Strait transit” on Wednesday, in line with international law.
“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he said. “The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”
The Ministry of National Defense said the ship sailed north through the waterway and was monitored by Taiwan’s armed forces, on what it called a “regular transit,” adding that there was no cause for alarm.
“The Republic of China armed forces fully monitors the movement of ships and aircraft around our airspace and waters. No irregularities have been noticed,” a statement from the ministry said.
Chinese Ministry of National Defense spokesman Ren Guoqiang (任國強) yesterday denounced “continued negative actions” by the US on Taiwan, including sailings through and flights over the Strait.
“US moves have seriously interfered in China’s internal affairs, severely harmed peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and poisoned Sino-US military ties,” Ren told a monthly news conference.
The actions were “extremely dangerous,” he added.
On Feb. 9 and Feb. 10, Chinese H-6 bombers and escort aircraft flew south of Taiwan into the Western Pacific, briefly crossing the Taiwan Strait median line, prompting Taiwan’s military to scramble fighters to intercept and warn away the Chinese aircraft.
On Monday last week, China conducted a night flight training mission southwest of Taiwan, and briefly approached the nation’s air defense identification zone.
Taiwan has called the drills provocative, and urged China to pay more attention to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than menace it.
A chart posted on Twitter by Aircraft Spots, a military air movement tracker, showed a US Navy EP-3E aircraft operating in the South China Sea near Taiwan on Wednesday.
In January, another US warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait less than a week after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) won re-election by a landslide on a platform of standing up to China.
Tsai on Tuesday visited a military base and again warned of the threat from China during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Everyone knows that although at present there is an intense epidemic situation, the Chinese communists’ military aircraft continue to harass Taiwan,” she said. “Their threat to Taiwan and regional security has not gone down.”
Additional reporting by staff writer and CNA
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