USA warship sails through Taiwan Strait amid heightened China tensions

Elias Hubbard
March 30, 2020

A United States warship passed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, the USA and Taiwan militaries said, following heightened tensions between China and Taiwan that has seen Taiwanese air force jets scramble to intercept Chinese fighters.

In Beijing, Chinese defence ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang denounced "continued negative actions" by the United States on Taiwan, including sailings through and flights over the Taiwan Strait.

Anthony Junco, a spokesman for the U.S. Seventh Fleet, said the guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell conducted "a routine Taiwan Strait transit" on March 25, in line with worldwide law.

"We are also ready to work with the United States and countries with similar ideals to advance common goals of freedom and democratic values and continue to strive for even greater worldwide space for Taiwan", the Ministry said.

The Defence Ministry of Taiwan in a statement on Thursday said the ship sailed north through the waterway on Wednesday under an "ordinary mission" and was monitored by Taiwan's armed forces.

The spokesman added that the Navy would "continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere global law allows".

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the USA act contravened worldwide law, was a "crude" interference in China's internal affairs and obstructed other sovereign states from developing normal relations with China. "In 2017, Xi enumerated an extreme policy line of "6 nos" on Taiwan", he added.

China claims democratic and separately ruled Taiwan as its own territory, and regularly describes Taiwan as its most sensitive and important issue in ties with the United States. The narrow Taiwan Strait that separates the island from China is a frequent source of tension.

China has stepped up its military drills around Taiwan in recent weeks despite the outbreak of the coronavirus, which emerged in a central Chinese province late past year and spread rapidly in China and beyond.

While the United States, like most countries, has no official relations with Taiwan, the Trump administration has ramped up backing for the island, with arms sales and laws to help Taiwan deal with pressure from China.

Taiwan says China should focus more on fighting the disease than menacing it.

An American warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait amid the blame-game between the USA and China over the novel Coronavirus that has killed over 21,000 people worldwide so far.

"Everyone knows that although at present there is an intense epidemic situation, the Chinese Communists' military aircraft continue to harass Taiwan", she said.

It also requires the United States to "alter" engagement with nations that undermine Taiwan's security or prosperity.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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