China’s defense ministry protested the ‘provocative’ passage of two US vessels traveling through the passage between China and Taiwan.
A US Navy warship and Coast Guard sailed through the waters between China and Taiwan, a self-governing island claimed by China, on Friday.
A statement posted on the ministry’s website on Saturday called the move ‘provocative’ and said it shows that the United States is the biggest threat to peace and stability and creator of security risks in the 160-kilometer (100-mile) wide Taiwan Strait.
‘We express firm opposition and strong condemnation,’ the statement said.
‘Taiwan is an inseparable part of China,’ Tan Kefei, a Chinese defense ministry spokesman, said in a statement according to Reuters. ‘The Taiwan issue is China’s internal affair and allows no external interference.
We call on the U.S. to recognize the situation, stop provocation and abide by the One China principle and the provisions of the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques.’
US Coast Guard cutter Munro, bottom, and Japan Coat Guard patrol vessel Large Aso sail together in formation through the East China Sea on Aug. 25
The USS Kidd guided-missile destroyer and Coast Guard cutter Munro sailed ‘through international waters in accordance with international law,’ the US Navy said.
Such exercises are seen as a warning to China, which recently conducted drills near Taiwan and has not renounced the use of force if needed to bring the island under its control.
‘The ships´ lawful transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,’ a statement from the Navy’s Japan-based 7th Fleet said.
Taiwan, home to 23.6 million people, split from China during a civil war that led to the Communist Party taking control of the mainland in 1949. The US does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan but maintains a representative office in the capital, Taipei, and is its biggest supplier of military equipment for its defense.
The US Coast Guard has been stepping up its presence in Asia, as the Chinese coast guard patrols near disputed islands that both China and other governments claim in the South and East China Seas.
The 418-foot (127-meter) long Munro, which is based in Alameda, California, arrived in the region in mid-August for what the US Coast Guard said would be a monthslong deployment. It trained with a Japanese coast guard ship, the Aso, in the East China Sea for two days earlier this week.
US Coast Guard National Security Cutter Munro travels through the Taiwan Strait during a routine transit with Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100) on Aug. 27. China’s defense ministry protested the passage of the vessels on Saturday
The US and Taiwan coast guards held talks this month after the two signed a cooperation agreement in March. China has denounced the agreement.
The recent talks included the State Department’s approval earlier this month of 40 self-propelled howitzers- large artillery equipment- to Taiwan.
Saturday’s defense ministry statement said that ‘Taiwan is an inalienable part of China,’ and that China would not tolerate any interference in what it called its internal affairs.
The symbolic move by the US follows Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to Singapore and Vietnam, in part to communicate support for America’s Asian allies as they deal with China’s influence in the region.
During her trip she accused China of ‘bullying and excessive maritime claims.’