USA warships pass through Taiwan Strait amid China tensions

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USA warships pass through Taiwan Strait amid China tensions

Earlier Sunday, commenting on the passage, China's Taiwan Affairs Office Director Liu Jieyi (劉結一) said the US has been "playing the Taiwan card" against China.

Taiwan's top China policy planner urged Beijing Sunday not to overreact to the recent passage of two U.S. Navy vessels through the Taiwan Strait and not to blame others for its own actions that have disturbed peace and stability in the region.

USA officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the destroyers Mustin and Benfold carried out the passage.

As far as is known, US Navy ships last crossed the Strait under then-US president George W. Bush in 2007, when the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk and its battle group sailed through the waterway.

Beijing is perceived as sensitive to U.S. military vessels traveling through the strait and continues to lay claim to Taiwan, a self-governed, democratic island, which it views as a breakaway province.

Although the US does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, it is its most powerful ally and top arms supplier.

The Taiwanese defense ministry said in a statement the two ships, the USS Mustin and USS Benfold, entered the waterway Saturday morning, AFP reported.

The U.S. and China also have tensions over China's growing military presence on man-made islands in the South China Sea, a place near where U.S. Navy continues to carry out freedom of navigation passages.

"These days, Taiwan has been under quite a bit of pressure from China- the snatching of multiple countries from Taiwan's already paltry pool of formal diplomatic allies within a short span of time, regular aerial and naval 'island patrols, ' even cyberattacks on the island", Koh said.

On April 25, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) ordered 34 airlines to describe Taiwan as part of China on their websites and in their promotional materials.

China has alarmed Taiwan by ramping up military exercises this year, including flying bombers and other military aircraft around the island and sending its carrier through the narrow Taiwan Strait separating it from Taiwan.

"Taiwan is a key "core interest" of Beijing and recently we see more strident resistance voiced out in Chinese state media against perceived USA moves to undermine such interest", Koh said.

In recent months, China's air force has held military maneuvers near the island, which Taipei has called intimidation. "And Taiwan is surely a litmus test for (Chinese President) Xi Jinping's repeated exhortation to protect China's national sovereignty and territorial integrity".

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