The US Navy sailed a warship through the Taiwan Strait Wednesday, a move that came on the same day Beijing warned that it would not rule out using force against self-governed Taiwan to block any move toward formal independence.
The “USS Antietam conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit July 24-25 (local time) in accordance with international law,” Cdr. Clay Doss, a spokesman for the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, told CNN in a statement
“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he added, saying “The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”
The US routinely sails through the Taiwan Strait, last doing so in May, but Chinese military forces view the strategic waterway separating China from Taiwan as a priority area and often shadow US vessels that sail through the area.
In a national defense white paper released Wednesday, China took aim at what it considers pro-independence or separatist forces in the far western region of Xinjiang, Tibet and Taiwan, claiming they were a threat to national security and social stability.
The paper accused Taiwan’s democratically elected government of “pursuing a path of separatism” by pushing for “gradual independence,” warning that China “must and will be reunited.”
According to the white paper, Taiwan’s government under President Tsai Ing-wen is “intensifying hostility and confrontation and borrowing the strength of foreign influence.”
At a press conference Wednesday, Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian reiterated the paper’s central points, declaring Taiwan independence a threat to the sovereignty of China.
“To seek Taiwan independence will get nowhere and China never allow any part of its territory to be separated,” he said.
CNN’s Steven Jiang and Ben Westcott contributed to this report.