China reacts sharply as US warships pass through Taiwan Strait

Beijing: China has reacted sharply after the United States sent two warships through the Taiwan Strait amid heightening bilateral tensions.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Friday urged the US to abide by its “one China” principle.

She said Beijing had closely monitored the U.S. ships through the waters, and had “expressed concern” to the U.S. side,

China considers Taiwan as its own territory and has not ruled out the use of force to bring the self-ruled island under its control.

The guided missile destroyer USS McCampbell and the USNS Walter S. Diehl “conducted a routine Taiwan Strait Transit” on Thursday that was “in accordance with international law,” US Pacific Fleet spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Tim Gorman told CNN.

“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.
The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” Gorman added.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said in a statement late on Thursday that the ships were moving in a northerly direction and that their voyage was in accordance with regulations.

The sailing of the ships is likely to be viewed in Taiwan as a sign of support from U.S. President Donald Trump’s government amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing.

Earlier this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on Taiwan to reject independence and embrace “peaceful reunification” with China and added that “we make no promise to renounce the use of force. We reserve the option for all the necessary means.”

China has stepped up pressure on Taiwan since President Tsai Ing-wen, from the pro-independence ruling party, took office in 2016.

Trump recently signed into law the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act reaffirming the U.S. commitment to Taiwan, including arms sales.