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US warship again transits Taiwan Strait, draws Chinese ire

China deployed surveillance ships and aircraft to tail the guided-missile destroyer USS Milius passing through the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday.

TAIPEI, Nov 24: China has accused the US of creating tension and undermining stability around South China Sea by sending warships through the Taiwan Strait that separates the island from China.

The PLA’s eastern theatre command issued a statement saying China deployed surveillance ships and aircraft to tail the US warship. “This move by the US creates security risks and undermines regional stability. The theatre troops will take all necessary measures to resolutely counter all threats and provocations, and resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” spokesperson Colonel Shi Yi said.

The US navy said the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius conducted a "routine Taiwan Strait transit" through international waters on Tuesday in accordance with international law."

"The ship's transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows," it added.

Last month also a US warship passed through the strait, which was opposed by China. China claims Taiwan as its territory and it has stepped up incursions over the island's airspace in the past one year.

British, Canadian, French and Australian warships too have passed through the Strait in recent years, sparking protests from Beijing.

Joe Biden and Xi Jinping recently had a virtual summit lasting three and a half hours. They discussed economy, world peace, human rights as well as the thorny issue of Taiwan's independence. On Taiwan, Xi warned the US that whoever plays with fire will get burnt." Chinese State media reported that Xi had cautioned Biden against encouraging Taiwanese independence.

Last month Biden had said Washington would come to Taipei’s defence in the event of a Chinese attack. The US has defence pacts with Taiwan and supplies military equipment. He also said the US position towards Taiwan remains unchanged. Officially, Washington does not recognise Taiwan’s sovereignty. The relationship continues to be of "strategic ambiguity."

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