Beijing condemned the maneuver as an ‘attempt to disrupt and undermine regional peace and stability’.
A U.S. destroyer has crossed the waterway separating Taiwan and China, the United States Navy said, the first such passage since leaders of the two superpowers a rare video conference earlier this month.
The passage through the Strait of Taiwan by Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Milius was a routine transit, the U.S. Seventh Fleet said in a statement.
The trip “demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific”, the statement said.
The maneuver comes after US President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping traded strong warnings about the future of Taiwan at a virtual summit earlier this month.
Chinese state media reported that Xi Biden warned that encouraging Taiwanese independence would be “playing with fire.”
In October, Biden seems to break from a long-standing U.S. policy of strategic ambiguity regarding Taiwan, and said Washington would come to Taipei’s defense in the event of a Chinese attack.
The White House later rejected the statement, saying the US position on Taiwan remained unchanged.
While Washington does not officially recognize Taiwan’s sovereignty, it has provided decades of support, including military training and weapons, to the island, which sees Beijing as an apostate region.
Washington and Taipei held their second annual economic dialogue this week.
In October, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen confirmed for the first time in years that US military personnel were present on the island as part of a training mission.
“Stop causing trouble”
US warships regularly conduct exercises in Taiwan Strait cause angry reactions from Beijing, which views the waters as part of its territory. The US and many other countries consider the route to be international waters open to all.
A growing number of US allies crossed the route as Beijing intensified its military threats to Taiwan and sought to strengthen its control over the disputed South China Sea.
British, Canadian, French and Australian warships have all marched through the Strait of Taiwan over the past few years, sparking protests from Beijing.
Zhao Lijian, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, described the latest transit as a “deliberate attempt to disrupt and undermine regional peace and stability”.
“The US must immediately correct its mistake, stop inciting trouble, cross the line and play with fire,” he warned.
Collin Koh, a research fellow at Singapore’s S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, maintains a database of declared U.S. transit through Taiwan Street.
Nine were exported in 2019, followed by 15 in 2020. So far this year, there have been 11, including the USS Milius crossing.