China criticizes passage of US destroyer through Taiwan Strait

Beijing, Jul 20 (EFE).- The Chinese Army denounced Wednesday the passage of the United States destroyer USS Benfold through the Taiwan Strait, an act it called a “provocation” on its official Weibo social media account.

Col. Shi Yi, an army spokesman, said the USS Benfold sailed Tuesday through the waters of the Taiwan Strait, whose 180-kilometer width separates the island from Fujian province in China.

Shi said the command ordered “naval and air forces” to “monitor and control” the entire route.

According to the colonel, the “frequent provocations and spectacles” of the US show the country is “the destroyer of peace and stability” and the “creator of risks” in the strait.

Shi said the Eastern Command troops “remain on high alert at all times” to “defend China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

China said Tuesday it would respond with “strong measures” if US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visits Taiwan next month, a possibility advanced by US media but neither confirmed nor denied by Pelosi or her team.

Taiwan is one of the main sources of conflict between China and the US, mainly because Washington is Taiwan’s main arms supplier and would be its greatest military ally in the event of a war with China.

Tensions escalated last year, with the number of incursions by Chinese aircraft into Taiwan’s self-defined aerial identification zone increasing and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen saying the US has a military presence in Taiwan.

China, which claims sovereignty over the island, has considered Taiwan a rogue province since the Kuomintang nationalists withdrew there in 1949 after losing the civil war against the communists. EFE


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