China whines after US sails warships through Taiwan Strait

By BLOOMBERG

HONG KONG • China expressed concern after the US Navy sailed a pair of warships through the Taiwan Strait, the second such show of force since July.

Two US vessels sailed through the Taiwan Strait from waters near Eluanbi, the southern tip of Taiwan island, toward the north on Monday, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said in a statement on its website.

US Pacific Fleet spokesman Commander Nate Christensen said the guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur and the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam took part in the passage operation “in accordance with international law”.

China “expressed concern” to the US about the transit, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing yesterday in Beijing. “The Taiwan issue is a matter of China’s territorial integrity and is also the most important and sensitive issue of US and China bilateral relations,” she said, repeating language used after the transit by two US warships in July.

“Cruising through the strait is not new, but it is a strong signal that the US will be on Taiwan’s side in case of a crisis between Taipei and Beijing,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, who teaches US-China relations at Hong Kong Baptist University.

“Taiwan might talk up its asymmetric warfare capabilities, but without the US, Taiwan would be dead.”

Tensions have also risen ahead of local elections on the island next month.