China condemns US sailing through Taiwan Strait

Written by Written by Junya Ishikawa, CNN Tokyo

China has summoned the U.S. ambassador to Japan and protested a U.S. Navy destroyer passage through the Taiwan Strait, Chinese state media reported Sunday.

The U.S. said it had no reason to have violated an “understandings” between the two countries on how to operate in the strait.

The Sunday incident is likely to cause further concern in China as its military also has a dispute with the U.S. over America’s refusal to recognize Taiwan as a part of China.

Beijing’s state-run Xinhua news agency released a statement Monday saying Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang had summoned the U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad to register “strong protest over the U.S. destroyer’s intentional entry” into the Strait.

“These action aggravate tensions in the Taiwan Strait and contravene the U.S. ‘One China’ principle and ‘five principles of peaceful development’ and also harm China’s sovereignty and security interests,” Xinhua quoted Geng as saying.

“China will never accept the existence of any ‘One China’ policy that is different from China’s own policy and will never accept the ‘Five Principles of Peaceful Development’ set by the U.S. unless the U.S. abandons its insistence on only recognizing the ‘One China’ policy,” Xinhua reported Geng as saying.

The U.S. Pacific Fleet said the USS Curtis Wilbur had not violated a 2002 U.S.-China Joint Communique which stipulates the U.S. will not recognize Taiwan as a part of China

“The United States has no reason to change or deviate from that understanding,” a spokeswoman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet told CNN.

“In fact, the enforcement of this understanding serves as a demonstration of American commitment to it,” she said, while providing further details on Monday.

The U.S. has sent Navy warships through the Taiwan Strait around this time of year — a time when they are typically headed north to the Pacific Ocean.

Last year’s voyage was seen as a sign of growing Chinese assertiveness by Beijing following a series of U.S. naval exercises in the South China Sea and elsewhere in the region.

China claims all of Taiwan and has attempted to shore up support in the region with its military build-up.

However, Taiwan has not formally recognized Beijing as the sole government of China since 1949 when Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang Nationalists fled to the island following a failed civil war with Mao Zedong’s Communists.

Recent visits by Taiwanese presidents to Europe have stoked Chinese alarm and have prompted the country to cancel dozens of their visas and make other travel restrictions.

Taiwan has several of its own military training bases in coastal areas, suggesting Chinese military intelligence could have an interest in the territory.

However, experts stress China does not want to fight Taiwan directly, fearing a significant loss of territory in a conflict.

China is training its “air and missile forces in an unprecedented and sophisticated way, especially for the defenses of airfields,” Oriana Skylar Mastro, a senior strategic analyst at IHS Jane’s, told CNN last year.

Mastro said China “also appears to be putting increased emphasis on its navy, in the context of an increasingly integrated naval force, in which the entire system is characterised by strategic command, decision and control,” she said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visited Taiwan last month.

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