(Taipei) The US destroyer USS Milius sailed through the Taiwan Strait claimed by Beijing on Sunday, the US Navy said, a week after extensive Chinese military exercises in the same area.
The USS Milius “conducted a routine transit through the Taiwan Strait” on Sunday, the US Navy said in a statement, “in waters where freedom of navigation and overflight on the high seas applies in accordance with international law. “.
“ The ship transited through a corridor in the strait located beyond any territorial sea of a coastal state ”, the statement added. “The United States military flies, sails, and operates wherever international law permits. »
Beijing said on Monday that it had monitored the passage of an American warship in the strait, and accused Washington of making “ media hype ” around the presence of its destroyer.
Chinese forces in the area “continuously maintain a high level of alert and resolutely defend national sovereignty and security, as well as regional peace and stability”, said Shi Yi, a military spokesperson. .
The situation at sea and in the air was “normal” around the island during the passage of the USS Milius, the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense assured on Monday.
China views with displeasure the rapprochement in recent years between the Taiwanese authorities and the United States which, despite the absence of official relations, provides the island with substantial military support.
Beijing views Taiwan as a province it has yet to successfully reunify with the rest of its territory since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949. China is aiming for this reunification, by force if necessary.
Last week, the USS Milius sailed near the Spratly Islands, also claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea. The Chinese government had denounced an “illegal intrusion”.
The passage of the American warship near Taiwan comes a week after extensive Chinese military exercises around the island.
For three days, Chinese ships and warplanes had simulated a “closure” of Taiwan, in retaliation for a meeting in the United States between Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy .
The exercises officially ended on April 10, but Chinese military ships and aircraft have continued to circulate around Taiwan ever since.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said Monday it detected four Chinese ships and 18 aircraft, four of which entered Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).
Taiwan’s ADIZ is not identical to the island’s airspace, and includes a much larger area that overlaps with part of China’s ADIZ, and even includes a portion of the mainland.
Western military ships regularly cross the Taiwan Strait, each time provoking protests from Beijing. The American destroyer USS Chung-Hoon crossed this strait in January, followed in February by two American and Canadian frigates.
In August 2022, Beijing carried out its biggest military maneuvers around Taiwan in decades, in response to a visit to Taipei by then-Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.