China has called the United States the region’s “greatest creator of risks” after a US warship again sailed through the Taiwan Strait, the narrow waterway that separates mainland China from the self-ruled island of Taiwan. The US Navy’s 7th fleet said its Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur on Tuesday conducted a “routine” transit through the Taiwan Strait.
In a statement, the 7th fleet said the “ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific”. China, which claims sovereignty over Taiwan, said its forces monitored the vessel through the sensitive waterway and issued a warning.
“The US side is intentionally playing the same old tricks and creating trouble and disrupting things in the Taiwan Strait,” said the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command. This “fully shows that the United States is the greatest creator of risks for regional security, and we are resolutely opposed to this”.
The US moves come amid escalating military tension between Beijing and Taipei, with the Taiwanese government complaining of China repeatedly sending its air force into the island’s air defence zone.
Last week, Taiwan said 28 Chinese air force aircraft, including fighters and nuclear-capable bombers, entered Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the largest reported incursion to date.
The US, Japan and other Western powers have meanwhile stepped up support for Taiwan, with the Group of Seven leaders issuing a statement earlier this month condemning China over its human rights record and underscoring the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait – comments Beijing dismissed as “slander”.
The US Navy has been conducting transits through the Taiwan Strait every month or so. The USS Curtis Wilbur also transited the strait a month ago, prompting China to accuse Washington of threatening peace and stability in the region.
Elsewhere in the Asia Pacific, the navies of the US and Singapore joined together in Guam for “advanced maritime training”.
In a statement, the US Pacific Fleet said the biannual drills – dubbed Pacific Griffin 2021 – began on June 21 and will continue until July 7.
The two-week exercises include both land and sea-based events, such as maritime special operations and maritime counterterrorism training, anti-air defence exercises, and anti-submarine warfare operations.