China anger as US missile destroyer sails through Taiwan Strait

US

A US warship has sailed through the Taiwan Strait – prompting an angry response from China.

The US Navy said the USS Halsey conducted a “routine Taiwan Strait transit” on Wednesday, “through waters where high-seas freedoms of navigation and overflight apply in accordance with international law”.

The guided missile destroyer passed through a corridor “beyond the territorial sea” of any coastal state, said a statement by the navy’s 7th fleet.

“Halsey’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to upholding freedom of navigation for all nations as a principle,” it said.

“No member of the international community should be intimidated or coerced into giving up their rights and freedoms.

“The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows.”

Taiwan’s defence ministry said its forces had monitored the situation and observed nothing unusual.

But China’s military described the move as “public hype” and said it had sent naval and aerial forces to monitor and warn the ship and “deal with it in accordance with the law and regulations”.

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Taiwan is a democratic, self-governing island that China sees as its own and fears over a possible invasion have persisted for years

China also claims jurisdiction over the strait, which is about 100 miles wide at its narrowest point, but the US and Taiwan say it’s international waters.

American warships, and occasionally US Navy aircraft, pass through or over the waterway about once a month.

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The latest sailing comes less than two weeks before Taiwan’s new president takes office.

President-elect William Lai Ching-te, who Beijing says is a dangerous separatist, will be inaugurated on 20 May.

His Democratic Progressive Party favours Taiwan’s de facto independent status, maintaining strong unofficial relations with the US and other major nations.

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