China has vented its anger after the United States sailed another warship through the Strait of Taiwan on Tuesday, accusing the US of seeking to undermine regional peace and security.
A statement from the PLA Eastern Command slammed the "provocative" naval activities, accusing the US yet again of sending "wrong signals to ‘Taiwan independence’ forces" - following the passage of the USS Sampson in what's now a monthly patrol. "China is firmly opposed to this," the PLA statement added.
The PLA further indicated that Chinese navy vessels followed and monitored the USS Sampson, adding that the event was "hyped up... publicly" by the US Navy. "The troops of the PLA Eastern Theatre Command always stay on high alert to resolutely defend China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity," it said.
It marks the fourth such US Navy warship passage of the strait this year, with 7th Fleet spokesman Lt. Nicholas Lingo calling it a "routine transit" based on freedom of navigation.
Prior US transits of the contested strait for this year include the following:
- guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson on Feb.26
- USS Ralph Johnson again on March 17
- USS Dewey on Jan.26
"US Navy ships routinely use the Taiwan Strait to transit between the two and have done so for many years,” Lingo told Stars & Stripes, adding that it wasn't in response to any particular event in response to Beijing dubbing it a "provocation".
The military publication further underscored, "The USS Sampson continued a two-year-old Navy routine of sending a ship through the contentious, 110-mile-wide strait roughly once a month."
From a PLA military exercise in the waters off Taiwan just days ago...
Three new large destroyers "Nanchang" (tail number 101), "Lhasa" (tail number 103) and "Wuxi" (tail number 104) of the PLA Navy on exercises in the Taiwan Strait. April 2022. pic.twitter.com/k3EU4Rv7EC— AZ Military News (@AZmilitary1) April 23, 2022
There have recently appeared greater tensions over the Taiwan question in light of Russia's war on Ukraine. Earlier this month at a military forum and press briefing in Washington D.C., US Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Samuel J Paparo said, "China is undoubtedly watching what’s happened in Ukraine, taking notes, and learning from it."
"And there will be learning and there will be adjustments to the extent that they’re able to learn from it. And they will improve their capabilities based on what they learn at this time," he added, strongly hinting that Beijing is poised to eventually make a move on the democratic-run island.