China protested the passage of a US Navy warship and coastguard through the waters between China and Taiwan, a self-governing island claimed by Beijing.
A statement by China’s defence ministry on Saturday called the move provocative and said it showed the United States is the biggest threat to peace and stability and creator of security risks in the 160 km wide Taiwan Strait.
“We express firm opposition and strong condemnation,” it said.
The USS Kidd guided-missile destroyer and coastguard cutter Munro sailed through the strait on Friday in international waters, the US Navy said.
China sees such exercises as a warning. Beijing recently conducted drills near Taiwan and has not renounced the use of force if needed to bring the island under its control.
“The ships’ lawful transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” a statement from the Navy’s Japan-based Seventh Fleet said.
Taiwan, home to 23.6 million people, split from China during a civil war that led to the Communist Party taking control of the mainland in 1949. The US does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan but maintains a representative office in the capital, Taipei, and is its biggest supplier of military equipment for its defence.