China rages at 'provocative' UK visit to Taiwan
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Beijing was left fuming after a US warship sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Straits on Thursday in what the US military has called routine activity. In recent years, US warships, as well as those from Britain and Canada, have sailed through the strait.
This has irritated China which claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, despite objections from Taipei.
In a statement, the US military said the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Chung-Hoon had made the journey.
They said: “Chung-Hoon’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Liu Pengyu, spokesman for China’s embassy in Washington, said in a statement that Beijing opposed the move and urged Washington to “immediately stop provoking troubles, escalating tensions and undermining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait”.
Mr Pengyu added that the move was not about keeping the region “free and open” and that China would stay on “high alert” and defend its sovereignty.
He said: “US warships frequently flex muscles in the name of exercising freedom of navigation.
“This is not about keeping the region free and open.
“China will continue to stay on high alert and is ready to respond to all threats and provocations at any time, and will resolutely safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
A spokesman for the Eastern Theatre Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army said that it had organised troops to monitor and guard the ship’s transit and “all movements were under control”.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said that the ship had sailed in a northern direction through the strait.
It added that its forces had monitored the passage of the ship and had observed nothing unusual.
Although the US has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, it is bound by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.
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China has never ruled out the use of force to take control of the island.
Taiwan has vowed to defend itself if attacked and has rejected China’s sovereignty claims as the People’s Republic of China has never governed the island.
Last month, a Chinese military plane came within three metres of an American air force aircraft in the contested South China Sea, forcing it to take evasive manoeuvres in order to avoid a collision.
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