Pentagon sends ship through Taiwan Strait after China threatens war over proposed...

Pentagon sends ship through Taiwan Strait after China threatens war over proposed arms sales to the island

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Sailors aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam prepare to launch a MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter on July 11. The Antietam sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Thursday in a routine sailing, the Pentagon said. But Beijing was not happy about the presence of the ship in the strait. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Toni Burton)

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon sent a warship through the Taiwan Strait today, one day after China used strong words to declare it would invade Taiwan should that island seek independence.

The guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam traveled through the strait on a routine sail, Pentagon officials said. Most of the Taiwan Strait is international water, however, Beijing considers that passage its territory and protests when military ships from other nations conduct sailings.

The 112-mile-wide Taiwan Strait separates mainland China from Taiwan. The Pentagon considers such transits as routine, demonstrating the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

Each month this year the Pentagon has shown its presence in the region, most notably by boosting the number of freedom-of-operations sailings and flyings over disputed islands and outcroppings China has claimed and is militarizing in the South China and East China seas.

“The Taiwan question is the most sensitive and important issue between China and the U.S.,” Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, said Thursday at a regular press briefing in Beijing, according to the ministry’s transcript of the briefing.

“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,” she said.

On Wednesday, China charged Washington with undermining global stability by agreeing to sell arms to Taiwan. Beijing then said it is ready for war if there was movement encouraging or enacting Taiwan’s independence, according to news reports.

In May, Taiwan’s air, sea and land forces conducted drills to repel an invading force — which its defense minister said were designed to defend the self-ruled island against China’s rising military threat, accordig to news reports. They held similiar drills in January.

China held its own military drill around July 15, along the country’s southeast coast. They came after news reports of a proposed $2.2 billion U.S.-Taiwan arms deal approved by the State Department.

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