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The US guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin sailed through the narrow waterway, the US navy said, the latest in a series of such ventures in recent months, which have drawn angry protests from China each time. The Eastern Theatre Command of China’s People’s Liberation Army confirmed air and naval forces followed and monitored the US ship throughout its voyage.
It brings a real threat to peace and stability in the region, which is very dangerous
Senior Colonel Zhang Chunhui
Senior Colonel Zhang Chunhui, spokesman for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command said the move send the wrong signal to what he called “Taiwan independence” forces.
He added: “We sternly warn related parties that any statement and act that sabotages the one-China principle and stirs up trouble in the Taiwan Straits does not fit the fundamental interests of China and the US, and damages the well-being of compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits, as it brings a real threat to peace and stability in the region, which is very dangerous.”
A report carried in China’s state-run Global Times newspaper claimed there had been 10 US warship transits in the Taiwan Strait so far in 2020.
Taiwanese media reports suggested the USS Mustin had sailed on the western side of the “middle line” of the strait, putting it closer to the Chinese side.
Chinese mainland military expert Song Zhongping told Global Times the warning by Zhang was among the sternest yet issued by China.
He further suggested should an accident occur leading to a conflict between China and the US in the strait, it would likely spill over into the South China Sea and East China Sea.
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Chinese forces will remain on high alert at all times to safeguard China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, it added.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said the US ship was on an “ordinary mission” and passed through the Taiwan Strait in a southerly direction.
The sailing comes a week after US Health Secretary Alex Azar visited Taiwan, the highest level US official to travel to the island since Washington broke off diplomatic ties with Taipei in favour of Beijing in 1979.
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Mr Azar’s trip also irritated Beijing, which responded by sending fighter jets close to Taiwan.
China considers Taiwan a purely domestic matter, and routinely calls it the most sensitive and important issue in its relations with the United States.
Speaking last month, Chinese military official, Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang spoke out after a US-Taiwan arms deal worth £620million ($493million) for the upgrade of surface-to-air Patriot missiles.
He said: “These attempts to contain China with Taiwan interfere in China’s internal affairs and undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
“They are completely wrong and extremely dangerous.
“The US should realise that China must and will be reunified, and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation must and will be achieved.”
A statement issued by the US Navy said: “The US 7th Fleet which is headquartered in Japan conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of US national interests in the Indo-Pacific area of operations.
“As the US Navy’s largest numbered fleet, 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability and prevent conflict.”
Taiwan’s defence ministry added: “The military is aware of and closely monitors all activities in the sea and air near the Taiwan Strait through the combined intelligence it has gathered.”
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