China voices 'concern' as U.S. warships sail through Taiwan Strait

The U.S. Navy sailed two ships through the Taiwan Strait on Monday amid ongoing tensions over freedom of navigation and political strains over trade with China, Stars and Stripes has reported.

U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman Commander Nate Christensen said the guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur and the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam took part in the passage operation "in accordance with global law".

This U.S. Navy photo obtained June 24 shows the guided-missile cruiser U.S.S. Antietam pulling alongside the Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Ronald Reagan during a fueling at sea on June 21 in the Philippine Sea.

"The Taiwan question bears on China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and it is the most important and sensitive issue in China-U.S. relations", Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at the time, warning the Americans against actions that would "undermine China-U.S. ties and the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait".

China has become increasingly aggressive in the Taiwan Strait towards Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province and not a separate country. "The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere global law allows", he stressed.

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It raised concerns over U.S. policy toward Taiwan in talks earlier with U.S. Defence Secretary, Jim Mattis, in Singapore.

Taiwan's relations with China have deteriorated since the island's President Tsai Ing-wen from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party swept to power in 2016.

Taiwan late on Monday requested that China refrain from interfering in its elections, saying that Beijing should respect and learn from its democracy.

China, concerned that United States military actions around Taiwan will embolden pro-independence factions on the self-ruled island, has bolstered its military presence in the area this past year. Chinese ships have used force and coercion to prevent access to islands in the region claimed by smaller nations, US officials have repeatedly said.

  • Sonia Alvarado