China furious with Biden as US destroyer sails close to Taiwan in ‘provocative’ move

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The US sent a naval destroyer through the Strait of Taiwan on Tuesday as part of a routine freedom of navigation exercise. But China accused Joe Biden and Washington of undermining regional peace and security. The People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command branded the move “provocative”, saying it sent the “wrong signals to ‘Taiwan independence’ forces”.

Destroyers are regularly sent through the Strait of Taiwan by the US, with other allies sometimes sending a naval patrol in its place.

The strait, which is 180km (112 miles) wide, separates China from Taiwan and its outlying islands and is viewed as international waters by the US.

Beijing has claimed the land as sovereign territory.

The Naval Destroyer, the USS Sampson, sailed through the strait from north to south on Tuesday.

In a statement, the US 7th Fleet said: “The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

“The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows.”

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence also confirmed that a “routine” patrol took place on Tuesday.

The patrols are seen by Beijing to be a show of support for Taiwan from the US.

This comes amid growing tensions between China and Taiwan, which is seen by Beijing as a breakaway province.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for a “reunification” between the two countries, which he said “must be fulfiled”.

He has not ruled out the possibility of using force to achieve this, with the country taking an increasingly aggressive stance towards Taiwan.

The past year has seen a record number of incursions sent into Taiwan’s air defence zone by Chinese war planes.

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The US has historically been ambiguous about whether or not it would formally intervene if China attacked Taiwan.

But in October last year, US President Joe Biden was asked whether he could “vow to protect Taiwan”.

In response, Mr Biden said: “yes and yes”.

Speaking at a CNN press conference, he added that there was no need to “worry about whether they’re going to be more powerful” because “China, Russia and the rest of the world knows we’re the most powerful military in the history of the world”.

When asked again whether the US would come to Taiwan’s defence in the event of an attack, Mr Biden confirmed: “Yes, we have a commitment to do that.”

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