Chinese military says it deployed navy, air force to monitor US warship’s movement south of mainland
The Chinese military on Wednesday doubled down on its accusations of the US disrupting peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait after an American warship recently sailed through the region.
“The frequent provocations and power shows made by the US side have fully proven that the US is the disrupter of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, and the maker of security risk in the region,” said Shi Yi, senior colonel and spokesperson for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command.
He was responding to a voyage of the US guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold which sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday “hyped it up publicly,” a statement by the PLA said.
Shi said the PLA dispatched its naval and air forces to “conduct security tracking and monitoring of the US warship in the whole course.”
The USS Benfold’s trip south of mainland China came the same day as reports claiming that US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was flying to the self-ruled island nation of Taiwan next month, triggering an angry response from Beijing which strongly opposes any such move by Washington.
“Troops of the PLA Eastern Theater Command are on high alert at all times to resolutely safeguard China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the Chinese military colonel added.
The PLA reportedly used its aircraft carrier Shandong when the US warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait.
The busy strait divides mainland China from Taiwan, which Beijing calls its “breakaway province,” despite Taipei insisting on its independence since 1949.
Beijing has also criticized Washington over “consecutive trespasses” by US warships around Xisha and Nansha islands in the South China Sea.
China claims sovereignty over parts of the resource-rich South China Sea, leading to disputes with several countries, including the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
The US regularly deploys its warships and air force in the region under the mantra of “freedom of navigation” in what Washington terms international waters.
Beijing, however says this is just “an excuse.”
The Philippines won a case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2016, which invalidated China’s claims over the sea.
China’s assertions are based on its “nine-dash line” — purple dashes on official Chinese maps that denote Beijing’s historical claims over the South China Sea.
The US has also formed a loose security alliance with India, Japan, and Australia, called the Quad, to counter China’s expanding economic and military influence in the wider Asia-Pacific region.
It recently signed the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework with 12 nations to shore up trade ties in the region, a move strongly opposed by Beijing.