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China calls US warship in sensitive Taiwan strait a ‘provocation’


China accused the US of a “provocative” action after a US warship sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait Saturday – as all three countries remain on heightened alert because of the war in Ukraine.

In response, US Navy officials insisted the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson was conducting a “routine” transit through international waters, Reuters reported Saturday.

“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” 7th Fleet spokesperson Nicholas Lingo said. “The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows.”

But a spokesman for the Eastern Theatre Command of China’s People’s Liberation Army called the warship’s voyage through the strait a “provocative act.”

Taiwan’s defense officials said the ship sailed north through the Strait, that its forces had monitored its passage and saw nothing unusual.

Taiwan is currently on edge due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, worried that China may try to take advantage of the situation and pounce on the island.

Beijing considers Taiwan the most sensitive and important issue in its relations with Washington.

the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain
Taiwan’s defense officials said that its forces had monitored its passage and saw nothing unusual.
Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Markus Castaneda/U.S. Navy via AP

Last year, US naval ships sailed through the Strait about once a month but Saturday’s transit was the first since November.

China claims democratically-ruled Taiwan as its own territory. Chinese officials have mounted repeated air force missions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the past two years, provoking anger in Taipei.

The Taiwan government said that on Saturday eight Chinese aircraft – six fighters and two anti-submarine aircraft – flew into its ADIZ, to the northeast of the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands at the top end of the South China Sea.

Like most countries, the United States has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but is its most important international backer and arms supplier.

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