Tuesday, July 16, 2024

China accuses US for tensions over Taiwan

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China on Thursday blamed the US for tensions over Taiwan, protesting the passage of an American warship through the Taiwan Strait as the two countries increase naval activity near the self-ruled island, claimed by Beijing as a breakaway region.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) tracked and monitored the USS John S. McCain, a guided missile destroyer, throughout its passage on Wednesday, Zhang Chunhui, spokesperson for the Chinese military’s eastern theatre command, said.

The US move sent the “wrong signal” to Taiwan’s government and “willfully disrupted the regional situation by endangering peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait”, Zhang said.

China firmly opposed the move and Chinese forces will respond with “strict precautions and vigilance’, he added.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the American ships engaging in “provocations” “send a seriously wrong signal to the forces of Taiwan independence, threatening peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait”.

“Would a Chinese warship go to the Gulf of Mexico to make a show of strength?” he added.

Earlier, the US Navy’s 7th fleet said the warship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait was made according to international law. “The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John S McCain (DDG 56) conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit April 7 (local time) through international waters in accordance with international law. The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US’s commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military will continue to fly, sail, and operate anywhere international law allows,” Lt Mark Langford, 7th Fleet spokesperson, said.

The same US warship had transited through the Taiwan Strait in February, triggering protests from Beijing.

China claims the democratically-run Taiwan as its own territory and has repeatedly protested over Washington stepping-up support for the island, including arms sales and sailing warships through the Taiwan Strait.

The PLA itself has increased its presence in the waters surrounding Taiwan, and even deployed an aircraft carrier last week.

Taiwan’s defence ministry on Wednesday said 15 Chinese aircraft, including 12 fighters, entered its air defence identification zone, with an anti-submarine aircraft flying to the south through the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines.

Taiwan’s air force sent up aircraft to intercept and warn the Chinese away, the Reuters news agency quoted the Taiwanese defence ministry as saying.

The PLA’s air force carried out its largest air drill around the island March-end, deploying more than 36 aircraft during the exercise.

“The large-scale exercise showed that the PLA is capable of surrounding the island of Taiwan and blocking it from receiving foreign reinforcements, and also sent a strong warning to the coast guard agreement the US signed with the island on Friday,” analysts told state media.

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