A US warship has sailed through the Taiwan Strait in response to recent Chinese military exercises. The move is seen as a show of support for Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province.
The USS John S. McCain, a guided-missile destroyer, conducted a “routine” transit of the strait, the US Navy said in a statement. China’s Defense Ministry criticized the US for what it called “provocative actions” that it said were aimed at disrupting regional stability.
The ministry urged the US to “immediately stop such provocative actions” to avoid damaging bilateral relations. The US has been increasing its military presence in the region in recent years, with China seen as a growing threat.
Taiwan, which has its own government, constitution and military, has been a flashpoint in US-China relations, with the US supporting the island and China threatening to take it by force if necessary.
The US has also been conducting freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea, where China has been building and militarizing artificial islands, to assert its territorial claims.
The latest move comes as the US and China are engaged in a trade war and amid growing tensions over a range of issues, including China’s treatment of its Muslim minority in Xinjiang and its crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
The US has also expressed concern over China’s growing military assertiveness in the region and its efforts to expand its influence in the Pacific. The US has been seeking to strengthen ties with Taiwan, including by selling it weapons, despite opposition from China.
The latest move is likely to further anger Beijing, which has already expressed strong opposition to the US military presence in the region.