Alwaght- The US said it sent two warships through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, its latest military provocation against China in the strategic waterway at a time when tensions between Beijing and Washington were high over billions of dollars in trade tariffs.
Taiwan is a flashpoint in the US-China relationship, and the voyage may be viewed by the self-ruled island as a sign of support from US as friction between Taipei and the mainland increases.
The guided missile destroyer Preble and the oiler Walter S Diehl were the two vessels involved, a US military spokesman said.
“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait shows the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, said.
US warships have sailed through the Taiwan Strait at least once a month since the start of this year. The US restarted such missions on a regular basis in July.
China has pursued Taiwan’s reunification ever since the island broke away from the mainland during a civil war in 1949. China claims full sovereignty over the island; and almost all world countries, including the US, recognize that sovereignty.]
China insists that freedom of navigation is a widely recognized concept that should not be misused. The United States routinely sails warships to and flies warplanes over the territories claimed by China but disputed by other regional countries.
On Sunday, the Preble sailed near the disputed Scarborough Shoal claimed by China in the South China Sea, angering Beijing.
The state-run China Daily said in an editorial on Wednesday that China had shown “utmost restraint in responding to the incitements by the US”
“With tensions between the two countries already rife, there is no guarantee that the presence of US warships on China’s doorstep will not spark direct confrontation between the two militaries,” the official newspaper said.