The US navy has “ignored” China’s “repeated requests” to stop its warships from sailing in the Taiwan Strait, according to a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman.
The US destroyer USS Lassen passed through the strait, a key strait between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, on its way to a visit in Hawaii. Taiwan’s defence ministry called the event an “illegal crossing”.
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The head of the US Pacific Fleet, Admiral Scott Swift, said on Monday that the US mission was not intended to antagonise China, but could be subject to diplomatic fallout.
“I don’t think it’s the first time we’ve conducted it, but I don’t know what we’ve done in the past to provoke anyone to that,” Swift said, adding that it would be difficult to determine whether the action had implications for the underlying territorial dispute.
The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang denied that China had made any request for the USS Lassen to leave the strait, saying: “We call on the US side to respect the fundamental facts and dismiss the baseless accusations it is bringing to the US side.”
“With the Taiwan Strait as a strategic maritime area, it is China’s consistent stance that all relevant parties should abide by agreements and avoid acts that would damage the smooth operation of commercial shipping in the strait and damage the interests of all parties,” Lu added.