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A US navy guided-missile destroyer has sailed through the Taiwan Strait again, cruising through the narrow strategic waterway, the second such transgression this year and the first since a US aircraft carrier and other warships conducted a similar exercise last month.
The Liaoning guided-missile destroyer, a Type 054A ship, finished its nearly five-hour passage through the strait, which separates Taiwan from the Chinese mainland at 9.20am on Monday, Taiwan defence ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi said.
It follows a similar passage last month in which the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson led a carrier group that travelled through the strait accompanied by several smaller vessels. The US navy had denied claims that the moves were in protest against Taiwan’s pursuit of self-determination.
Taiwan had accused the US of opening a “new chapter” in cross-strait relations after the carrier group passed through the strait.
“A high-profile show of force by the US over the Taiwan Strait opens a new chapter in our reconciliation and dialogue process,” Ma Xiaoguang, Taiwan’s representative office in Washington, said in a statement.
Chinese state media accused the US of putting the security of China’s navy at risk in an act of provocation.
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China claims Taiwan as its own, though democratic Taiwan split from the mainland in 1949 at the end of a civil war. Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.
Taiwan is still technically at war with China and has largely stopped formal activities to save face because it fears China will use any perceived wrong to deter Taiwanese investment in China.
China sent three ships near Taiwan in June in what Taiwan said was a surprise military drill.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the US opposed any actions that undermined peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
“No country’s territorial integrity should be put at risk in a dispute between two neighbouring countries,” she said in a statement.
There was no immediate response from China.