US destroyer sails through Taiwan Strait, provoking China
WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — A US warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait in what the American military described as a "routine" passage Wednesday, but enraging China, which claims sovereignty over the island and surrounding seas.
Ties between Beijing and Washington have deteriorated in recent months, over issues including trade and Hong Kong, with the self-ruled island of Taiwan a longrunning source of tension.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Barry passed through the Strait on October 14, according to a statement by the US Pacific Fleet.
"The ship's transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific," the statement said.
"The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows," it added.
Any US Navy operations in the Taiwan Strait, which separates China from the island, provoke a strong response from Beijing, which considers Taiwan to be an inviolable part of its territory.
In an angry riposte, the Chinese People's Liberation Army said it tracked the USS Barry by sea and air "throughout the entire process."
"We warn the US to stop its words and deeds that provoke trouble and disturb the situation in the Taiwan Strait," Eastern Theatre Command spokesman Colonel Zhang Chunhui said.