China threatens to use force if Taiwan moves towards independence

A US warship crossed the Taiwan Strait, which separates the island from mainland China, on Tuesday for the first since the virtual summit between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping.

The passage through the Taiwan Straits of the USS Milius, an Arleigh Burke-class ship equipped with missiles, was a simple routine transit, indicated the United States’ Seventh Fleet.

This crossing “demonstrates the commitment of the United States to a free and open Indo-Pacific”, reads a statement.

A week ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with his US counterpart Joe Biden. Taiwan was one of the themes of the meeting.

Beijing considers Taiwan part of its territory and threatens to use force if the island declares independence.

The Chinese leader warned Joe Biden that encouraging the island’s independence is “a very dangerous trend that amounts to playing with fire.”

US warships periodically carry out exercises in that strait, angering Beijing, which claims the island and the waters around it.

The United States and many other countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, France and Australia believe that this area belongs to international waters and is therefore open to all.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Tuesday condemned the crossing, calling it a “deliberate attempt to interrupt and undermine regional peace and stability”. “The United States should immediately correct its error,” he warned.

Collin Koh, a researcher at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, maintains a database on the number of crossings reported by Americans in the Taiwan Strait.

Nine were carried out in 2019 and 15 in 2020. This year, 11 crossings have already been made, including the one carried out by the USS Milius.

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