China denounces US Navy ships’ Taiwan Strait passage

10 July, 2018 12:00 AM printer

BEIJING: A ruling Chinese Communist Party newspaper on Monday denounced the passage of a pair of U.S. Navy ships through the Taiwan Strait as a “psychological game,” as the two sides square off over trade and relations with self-governing Taiwan, reports AP. 

The Global Times said in an editorial that the U.S. was adding to tensions by sailing the Japan-based guided missile destroyers USS Mustin and USS Benfold through the 160-kilometer-wide (100-mile-wide) strait that divides Taiwan from mainland China.

Though such missions are not uncommon, both Taiwan and the U.S. made unusual public confirmations of the ships’ passage over the weekend.

Washington is “sending political signals by sending warships through the Taiwan Strait,” said the Global Times editorial, headline “U.S. psychological game in Taiwan Strait.”

At a daily briefing Monday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had “played close attention to” the passage of the ships, but declined to connect the incident to other issues affecting relations between Beijing and Washington.

China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory to be conquered by force if necessary, has criticized recent U.S. moves to strengthen relations with the administration of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. Those include the opening of a new office complex for the American Institute in Taiwan, which operates as Washington’s de facto embassy on the island in the absence of formal diplomatic ties that were cut when the U.S. switched recognition to China in 1949.