The Taiwan Strait has been a frequent source of military tension since Chinese nationalists took refuge on the island in 1949 after their defeat by the Communists.
In recent years, foreign warships have passed through the strait, angering Beijing.
China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday that Beijing has “sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the Taiwan Strait” adding that statements by “some countries that the Taiwan Strait is part of ‘international waters’ (were) wrong”.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price wrote in an email to Reuters on Tuesday that “the Taiwan Strait is an international waterway, which means the Taiwan Strait is an area where freedoms in high seas, including freedom of navigation and overflight, are guaranteed by international law.”
Earlier in the day, Taiwanese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou called China’s position “misleading”.
China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control and considers the island an inherent part of its territory.
(Report David Brunnstrom, Humeyra Pamuk and Michael Martina; French version Camille Raynaud)