The Chinese military has condemned the United States and Canada for sending one warship each through the Taiwan Strait last week, saying they threatened peace and stability in the region.
China claims that Taiwan has democratically ruled as its own territory, and has mounted repeated air force missions in Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the past year, sparking anger in Taipei.
China sent about 150 planes into the zone over a four-day period beginning Oct. 1, in a further escalation of tension between Beijing and Taipei that has sparked international concern.
The US military said the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey sailed through the narrow waterway separating Taiwan from its neighbor China on Thursday and Friday, along with the Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg.
“The passage of Dewey and Winnipeg through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the commitment of the United States and our allies and partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” it added.
The Eastern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army of China said its troops were watching the ships and were “on watch” during their passage.
“The United States and Canada have colluded to provoke and inflame problems… seriously endangering peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” it said. “Taiwan is part of Chinese territory. Theater forces are always alert and resolutely oppose all threats and provocations.”
US naval ships sailed through the strait about monthly, angering Beijing, which accused Washington of fueling regional tensions. US allies also occasionally send ships through the strait, including Britain last month.
While tensions have increased in the Taiwan Strait, no shots have been fired and Chinese aircraft have not entered Taiwanese airspace, concentrating their activity in the southwestern part of the ADIZ.
While the ADIZ encompasses Taiwan’s territorial airspace, it encompasses a wider area that Taiwan monitors and patrols, giving it more time to respond to any threats.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday that three Chinese aircraft — two J-16 fighters and an anti-submarine plane — have flown back into ADIZ.