China Forces 'On High Alert' after U.S. Warship Sails near Taiwan

The Chinese navy has condemned a U.S. warship for sailing through the Taiwan Strait, accusing Washington, D.C. of "trouble-stirring" amid ongoing tensions regarding the island's independence from Beijing.

The Arleigh-Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry passed through the Taiwan Strait Wednesday, in what the U.S. Pacific Fleet said was a "routine" transit "in accordance with international law."

But the Chinese People's Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command, responsible for the country's east coast and the Taiwan Strait, dismissed the American transit as a provocation.

The state-backed Global Times newspaper—often used to air more belligerent sentiments from within the country—said Eastern Theater Command "organized naval and air forces and tracked and monitored the USS Barry destroyer for the entire course when the U.S. warship sailed through the Taiwan Straits on Wednesday."

Senior Colonel Zhang Chunhui, the spokesperson for the command, said: "We sternly urge the U.S. to stop making trouble-stirring statements and moves. The command forces are always on high alert in resolutely safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits."

The U.S. Pacific Fleet said: "The ship's transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows."

U.S. warships and aircraft regularly transit close to Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own territory. The island has been independent since the end of the Chinese civil war, as the last holdout of the defeated nationalist forces. But the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has vowed to take control of the nation by force if necessary, as part of its "One China" policy.

The U.S. has long supported Taiwan's independence, though does not officially recognize the country. Along with its regional military deployments, the U.S. provides weapons to Taiwan to help protect against possible future invasion. The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act also includes an implicit U.S. commitment to defend the island against Chinese attack.

National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien said last week that Taiwan should adopt a "porcupine" strategy to deter Chinese aggression. "Lions generally don't like to eat porcupines," he said.

Beijing has recently criticized the U.S. and Taiwan for a series of planned weapon sales, which Washington says are intended to fortify the island's defense. The CCP has repeatedly accused pro-independence Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen—re-elected for a second term in January—of risking peace in the region by aligning the island with the U.S.

China, US, military, navy, Taiwan, Taiwan Strait
This file photo shows the USS Barry during a replenishment-at-sea in the Pacific Ocean on September 16, 2020. The CCP has condemned the U.S. after the warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait. Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class James Hong/U.S. Navy