The guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, the tenth such passage by a U.S. Navy ship this year.
The Antietam’s transit was seen as particularly significant because it occurred only a day after China restated its threats to seize Taiwan by force if necessary.
The U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet described the passage as “a routine Taiwan Strait transit” conducted “in accordance with international law.”
“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” said U.S. Navy spokesman Cmdr. Clay Doss.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said “deep concerns” were expressed to the United States over the transit.
“The Taiwan question is the most sensitive and important issue between China and the U.S. We urge the U.S. to abide by the One China principle and the three joint communiques, to be prudent and act appropriately with regards to Taiwan so that it doesn’t harm China-U.S. relations and the peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait’s region,” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen welcomed the Antietam’s passage and declared Taiwan will “make no compromise on its freedom, democracy, and sovereignty.”
“The responsibility for cross-strait and regional stability lies with every party. China has the responsibility, and we will undertake ours, too,” said Tsai.
Almost every report of the transit mentioned the release only a day earlier of China’s new defense white paper, the first such strategic document issued since 2015. The white paper denounced the United States as a threat to global stability and identified Taiwanese “separatists” as the greatest security threat facing Beijing.
“If there are people who dare to try to split Taiwan from the country, China’s military will be ready to go to war to firmly safeguard national sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity,” the Chinese Defense Ministry stated when the report was released.