China accused the United States of carrying out a show of force as two warships of its Navy passed through the Taiwan Strait on Thursday morning.
The US Navy explained that the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers USS John S. McCain and USS Curtis Wilbur “made a routine transit through the Taiwan Straits” in accordance with international law.
The step “shows the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the Navy added in a statement on its website.
The Chinese Defense Ministry described what happened as a “show of force” and provocation that “sends an erroneous signal to the ‘independence forces of Taiwan’ and seriously endangers peace and stability in the area of the Taiwan Strait” .
“We strongly oppose this,” the ministry said in a statement on its official microblog, adding that it monitored the passage of ships by air and sea. “The Chinese People’s Liberation Army maintains a high level of alert at all times and can respond at any time to any threat or provocation and firmly defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Although China claims Taiwan as its territory, the traffic strait that separates them is often seen as an international crossing. Beijing firmly opposes any sign of military backing from Washington for Taiwan, an autonomous republic that relies on the United States for defensive weapons and political backing in the face of threats from the Chinese to annex the island by force.
In another statement, the Taiwanese Defense Ministry said that it observed the passage of ships and that “the situation is normal.”