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Urot sa China! US warship sails through Taiwan Strait

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Agence France-Presse

A United States warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait, US Navy and Taiwanese authorities said Thursday, a move likely to anger Beijing.

The transit came as China, which views Taiwan as a renegade province, unveiled a defence white paper Wednesday stressing its willingness to use force to thwart any move towards the self-ruled island’s independence, and accusing the US of undermining global stability.

It also followed an unprecedented joint Chinese-Russia air force exercise this week that triggered furious protests of airspace violations by key US regional allies South Korea and Japan.

According to the US Seventh Fleet, the USS Antietam conducted a routine transit through the narrow waterway separating the Chinese mainland and Taiwan during July 24-25.

The transit “demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the Seventh Fleet said in a statement.

“The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”

US warships periodically conduct navigation exercises in the waterway, triggering angry responses from China every time.

Beijing lodged a protest with Washington in May after a US destroyer and a supply ship sailed through the strait.

China views any ships passing through the strait as essentially a breach of its sovereignty — while the US and many other nations view the route as international waters open to all.

Taiwan and China have been ruled separately since the end of a civil war in 1949, but Beijing views the democratic island as part of its territory.

Last month, a Canadian frigate and a support vessel passed through Taiwan Strait in a recent string of such transits, as they came from a visit to Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay heading to Northeast Asia.

The ships were going to join “a multinational effort to counter North Korea’s evasion of UN Security Council sanctions by maritime smuggling”.

In April, Beijing said its navy had warned off a French warship that had entered the Taiwan Strait earlier that month and lodged an official complaint with Paris.

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