For the first time under the administration of new US President Joe Biden, a US navy warship passed on Thursday through the sensitive waterway, which separates self-ruled Taiwan from mainland China.
The US navy said the guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain had “conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit” in what it claimed to be “in accordance with international law.”
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry also described the move as a “normal” mission.
The Eastern Theater Command of China’s People’s Liberation Army, however, said in a statement that Beijing is “resolutely opposed” to such military activities in the region.
“The US move is a repeat of its old trick of ‘mixed manipulation’ of the situation across the Taiwan Strait, deliberately creating tensions and disrupting regional peace and stability,” it added.
“No matter how the situation in the Taiwan Strait changes, Theater troops will loyally perform their duties and mission, resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity,” said the statement.
Over the past year, the US navy sent its warships through the Taiwan Strait at least 13 times.
Taiwan is a self-ruled island subject to Chinese sovereignty. But it has been defying Beijing under the secessionist president Tsai Ing-wen, who has been backed by Washington.
Former US president Donald Trump provided her government with weapons, despite constant warnings from Beijing against the military transactions with Taipei.
Beijing says the US contacts with Taiwan and the weapons sales to the island violate Chinese sovereignty.
Under the “One China” policy, almost all world countries, including the US, recognize Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan and are not allowed to have formal relations with Taipei.
Guyana calls of plans for Taiwan ties
In a recent development, Guyana announced it terminated an agreement with Taiwan to open a representative office in the South American country.
Earlier on Thursday, Taiwan’s foreign ministry said it had signed an agreement with Guyana to open a Taiwan office.
But later in the day, Guyana’s foreign ministry said it was rolling back the agreement, citing the government adherence to the “One China” policy.
“The government has not established any diplomatic ties or relations with Taiwan and as a result of the miscommunication of the agreement signed, this agreement has since been terminated,” said the ministry.
China has earlier called on Guyana not to engage in official ties with Taiwan, urging the country to “earnestly take steps to correct their mistake.”
Guyana has traditionally had close ties with China.
Taiwan accuses China of ‘bullying’
Taiwan Foreign Ministry reacted to the move, saying that Guyana had “unilaterally” decided to back out of the deal because of Beijing’s pressure.
“We express our strongest dissatisfaction and condemnation of the Chinese government once again bullying and compressing Taiwan’s international space and Taiwan’s participation in international affairs,” said the ministry.
Taiwan only has formal diplomatic relations with 14 countries, including four Caribbean nations.
Over the years, several countries severed their ties with Taiwan and switched allegiance to China.
But, in the final days of Trump’s presidency, his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lifted decades-old restrictions on contacts with Taiwan, in a controversial move that angered China.
“The US-Taiwan relationship need not, and should not, be shackled by self-imposed restrictions of our permanent bureaucracy,” Pompeo said.
Despite China’s hopes that Biden will “learn a lesson” from Trump’s wrong policies in the region, experts say his administration is now reorienting its priorities around rising powers in Asia.
Experts say the Biden administration is hoping to move on from the “forever wars” of the last two decades in the Middle East and instead prioritize Asia in its foreign policy initiatives.