The remarks by Zhang Chunhui, spokesman for China’s eastern theatre command, came with the US having also in recent months stepped up arms sales to Taiwan and official exchanges with the self-governing island, despite the Chinese government voicing strong opposition to it doing so.
In a statement on Thursday, Zhang said the Chinese military had followed and monitored the guided-missile destroyer USS Barry when it conducted what the US Navy described as a “routine Taiwan Strait transit”.
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“The US has frequently sent wrong signals to ‘Taiwan independence’ forces and seriously undermined peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” he was quoted by state news agency Xinhua as saying. Beijing considers Taiwan a renegade province that must be united with mainland China, by force if necessary.
Zhang urged the US to stop “provocations and meddling” over Taiwan and vowed to defend China’s territory as well as peace and stability in the strait.
US Navy ships regularly pass through the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait. Whereas Beijing says passage through the strait by foreign vessels violates its sovereignty, the US insists the strait is part of international waters and its operations are in line with international law.
“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” US Navy’s Seventh Fleet spokeswoman Reann Mommsen said in a statement.
Tensions over Taiwan have soared in recent months as the administration of US President Donald Trump has markedly hardened its stance on China and increased its support for the island and its independence-leaning president, Tsai Ing-wen.
The White House is poised to move ahead with the sale of three advanced weapon systems to Taiwan, including the advanced High Mobility Artillery Rocket System.
Beijing has stepped up its military drills aimed at Taiwan, while the island’s defence ministry has revealed that more than 8 per cent of Taiwan’s military budget this year has been spent on responding to Beijing’s incursions.
People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft have this year flown 217 sorties into the southwestern corner of Taiwan’s air defence identification zone and 49 across the median line – the unofficial line that separates the island from the mainland.
Beijing has been infuriated by warming ties between Taipei and Washington, claiming recent visits to the island by senior US officials – Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and undersecretary of state Keith Krach – violated the one-China policy.
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday urged PLA troops to “put their minds and energy on preparing for war” during a visit to a military base in the southern province of Guangdong, according to Xinhua.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Chinese military mounts live-fire test of new anti-tank missile in ‘Taiwan drill’
- Taiwan accuses Beijing of ‘malicious sensationalism’ after state TV broadcast of ‘spy’s confession’
This article US warship’s Taiwan passage undermined peace and stability: Chinese military first appeared on South China Morning Post