Frequent transits by warships from the United States Navy recently have seriously jeopardized peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits and given encouragement to separatist groups in Taiwan, a spokesman for the Chinese military said.
Senior Colonel Zhang Chunhui, spokesman for the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command, said in a statement on Saturday that his command mobilized naval and air forces to follow and monitor the USS Mustin when the US guided-missile destroyer sailed through the Taiwan Straits on Friday. He did not give further details of the operation.
“The US side has often sent its warships to transit the Straits and has hyped up such acts to deliberately draw attention to the Taiwan question as they are afraid of tranquility in this region,” he said. “The true intention behind such moves is to exert a ‘mixed manipulation’ by flexing its muscle and pouring misinformation.”
The US’ wrongdoings reflect its selfish strategy to use the Taiwan question as a bargaining chip and a trap, Zhang added.
“We strongly oppose these acts,” he said. “The theater command will closely monitor situations in the Straits and will firmly fulfill its duties.”
On Saturday, the military authority in Taiwan confirmed the US ship’s transit through the Straits, saying its forces mobilized joint surveillance operations and observed air and sea situations during the entire process.
USS Mustin is an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer that belongs to the US Seventh Fleet’s Destroyer Squadron 15, which is based in Yokosuka, Japan.
The Seventh Fleet said in a statement on Friday that the ship’s transit through the Taiwan Straits “demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific”, adding that the US military “will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows”.
The Mustin’s voyage in the Taiwan Straits marked the 12th appearance of ships from the US Navy in the waters this year.
The last transit took place on Nov 21 by the USS Barry, which made its fourth passage through the Straits this year, according to the Seventh Fleet.