China criticizes US for ship’s passage through Taiwan Strait weeks before new leader takes office

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In this photo provided by the US Navy, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG 97) conducts routine underway operations while transiting through the Taiwan Strait on May 8. (AP)

TAIPEI, Taiwan, May 9, (AP): China’s military criticized a US destroyer’s passage through the Taiwan Strait less than two weeks before the island’s new president takes office and while Washington and Beijing are making uneven efforts to restore regular military exchanges.
Navy Senior Capt Li Xi, spokesperson for China’s Eastern Theater Command, accused the US of having “publicly hyped” the passage of the USS Halsey on Wednesday. In a statement, Li said the command, which oversees operations around the strait, “organized naval and air forces to monitor” the ship’s transit.
The US Navy’s 7th Fleet said the Halsey “conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit on May 8 through waters where high-seas freedoms of navigation and overflight apply in accordance with international law.”
The guided-missile destroyer transited through a corridor in the strait that is “beyond the territorial sea” of any coastal state, the fleet said in a statement.
“Halsey’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to upholding freedom of navigation for all nations as a principle,” it said. “No member of the international community should be intimidated or coerced into giving up their rights and freedoms. The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows.”
China’s accusation that the transit was “publicly hyped” – essentially meaning it was played up for maximum political effect – has been standard practice when Beijing sees the announcements as a means of pushing back against China’s claim to some degree of control over who can pass freely through the strait. There was no indication the US Navy had operated any differently in the latest case, nor that the Chinese response was any more vociferous.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it was fully aware of the destroyer’s passage.
“Throughout the transit, the Taiwanese military was closely monitoring the surrounding sea and airspace, and the situation remained normal,” the ministry said.

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