On Wednesday, the US sailed a guided missile destroyer through the Taiwan Strait amid heightened tensions with Beijing. China said it tracked the USS Barry as it steamed through the sensitive waters.
Maj. Zhang Chunxuan, a military spokesperson for China’s Eastern Theater Command, said China mobilized air and sea forces to keep an eye on the destroyer.
The US is “seriously undermining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait region. We are asking the United States to stop making trouble through its words and actions in the Taiwan Strait,” Zhang said.
“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the US Pacific Fleet said in a statement. “The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” it added.”
The US sending warships through the Taiwan Strait is nothing new, but the provocative maneuver comes as US-China relations are deteriorating due in part to Washington’s warming ties with Taipei. Since the US severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979, it has continued arming the island to discourage mainland China from invading.
Those weapons sales continue, and Reuters recently reported the White House is moving forward with the sale of five new weapons packages to Taiwan. The Trump administration has also increased informal diplomatic ties by sending officials to Taipei for the highest-level US visits since the diplomatic shift in 1979.