China says US warship sailing through Taiwan Strait is undermining regional stability

This follows Biden's government reassuring Taiwan that its commitment to them is "rock solid"

Paintings commemorating previous battles adorn a wall on February 04, 2021 in Lieyu, an outlying island of Kinmen that is the closest point between Taiwan and China. Kinmen, an island in the Taiwan strait that is part of Taiwan's territory. Getty Images.
Paintings commemorating previous battles adorn a wall on February 04, 2021 in Lieyu, an outlying island of Kinmen that is the closest point between Taiwan and China. Kinmen, an island in the Taiwan strait that is part of Taiwan's territory. Getty Images.

The Chinese military criticised the United States on Thursday for undermining regional peace and stability after a US Navy warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait a day earlier.

A spokesman for the People's Liberation Army's Eastern Theater Command said in a statement the Chinese military tracked the USS Curtis Wilbur as the destroyer made what the US Navy called a "routine Taiwan Strait transit".

Taiwan's government expressed its thanks and "admiration" for US President Joe Biden on Thursday after he told his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping of his concerns about Beijing's pressure against the island China, which claims as its own territory.

Biden's government reassured democratic Taiwan earlier this month that its commitment to them is "rock solid", especially after China stepped up its military activity near the island shortly after Biden's inauguration.

Mr Biden, in his call with Mr Xi, underscored his "fundamental concerns about Beijing's coercive and unfair practices, its crackdown in Hong Kong, reported human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and increasingly assertive actions in the region, including towards Taiwan", according to the White House.

Taiwan's presidential office thanked Mr Biden for the comments.

"We express our admiration and gratitude for President Biden's concern about the security of the Taiwan Strait and human rights issues," spokesman Xavier Chang said in a statement.

"As a member of the international community, Taiwan will continue to work closely with like-minded countries, including the United States, to jointly contribute to the stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region."

China regularly describes Taiwan as the most important and sensitive issue in it relationship with the US, and was less-than-pleased by increased contacts between the two and increased arms sales under former President Donald Trump's administration.

Mr Xi maintained a hardline tone regarding Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan, which Xi told Biden were matters of "sovereignty and territorial integrity" that he hopes the United States will approach cautiously.

In related news, Mr Biden’s nominee to be director of the CIA, William Burns, told a Senate committee on Wednesday that he saw competition with China – and countering its “adversarial, predatory” leadership – as the key to US national security.

He called China “a formidable, authoritarian adversary,” that is strengthening its ability to steal intellectual property, repress its people, expand its reach and build influence within the United States.

The United States, like most countries, has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but is the island's most important international backer and arms supplier.

Published: February 25, 2021 10:26 AM

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