Published: Mon, July 09, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

China warns USA against 'endangering Taiwan Strait peace'

China warns USA against 'endangering Taiwan Strait peace'

A ruling Chinese Communist Party newspaper on Monday denounced the passage of a pair of U.S. Navy ships through the Taiwan Strait as a "psychological game", as the two sides square off over trade and relations with self-governing Taiwan.

Two U.S. warships traveled down the narrow Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and China on Saturday, Taiwanese officials said.

The USS Mustin and USS Benfold guided-missile destroyers, which are both home-ported at the USA naval base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, were the first such American vessels to pass through the strait since the USS John McCain made the transit in July 2017.

Beijing also criticized the USA efforts to foster the relationship with the Taiwanese government and its president Tsai Ing-wen, including the opening of a new office complex for the American Institute in Taiwan that works essentially as Washington's informal embassy due to the absence of formal diplomatic ties since 1949.

Those include the opening of a new office complex for the American Institute in Taiwan, which operates as Washington's de facto embassy on the island in the absence of formal diplomatic ties that were cut when the USA switched recognition to China in 1949.

Collin Koh, a specialist in regional naval affairs at Singapore's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said the warships' transit was likely a message from the US that it continues to support Taiwan. China regularly says Taiwan is the most sensitive issue in its ties with the United States.

The U.S. Navy has not sailed an aircraft carrier in that area since 2007.

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China sees self-ruling democratic Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified, by force if necessary, but the island regards itself as a sovereign country.

The move comes as a U.S.

The last time an American warship transited through the Strait was in July, 2017 when the destroyer USS John S. McCain sailed in the waterway.

US overtures towards Taiwan, from unveiling a new de facto embassy to passing the Taiwan Travel Act, which encourages USA officials to visit, have further escalated tension between Beijing and Taipei.

The name change came in the wake of letters sent by China's Civil Aviation Administration (CAA) in late April, asking the carrier to designate Taiwan as part of China within 30 days.

MOFA also urged other countries to resist such intervention by China, which it said is aimed at disrupting the independent operations of foreign companies to achieve its political objectives.

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