New Delhi, March 26 : An American warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday amid the blame-game between the US and China over the novel coronavirus that has killed over 21,000 people worldwide so far.
The defence ministry of Taiwan in a statement said the ship sailed north through the waterway under an "ordinary mission" and was monitored by Taiwan's armed forces.
A spokesperson for the US Seventh Fleet Anthony Junco, said the ship was the guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell, which conducted "a routine Taiwan Strait transit on March 25 in accordance with the international law".
"The ship's transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows," he said.
China, the unitary one-party socialist republic considers the autonomous and democratic island of Taiwan, its territory which it may bring under its direct control by force if necessary. The narrow strait that separates Taiwan, the island with an area of 35,808 square kilometers and around 24 million people, from China is a frequent source of tension.
Well-known expert on China at JNU, Professor Srikand Kondapalli told IANS that China had sent its aircraft carrier Liaoning twice last year, surrounding the island, besides scrambling bombers and fighters and violating the median line in the cross Straits.
"Traditionally, after the first Taiwan Straits crisis in 1958, the imaginary median line was respected by both sides. As China is rising and its ambitions increasing, it is attempting to overcome the Straits. Secondly, after Xi Jinping took over in 2012, China's policy changed from peaceful development of cross Straits relations to immediate reunification with Taiwan. In 2017, Xi enumerated an extreme policy line of "6 nos" on Taiwan. The change in China's policy led to its more assertiveness and following the US Congress-Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, the US as well has been upgrading its relations with Taiwan and trying to enforce balance in the Straits," he said.
The pandemic has escalated tensions between Beijing and Taipei, with the latter accusing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) of covering-up the outbreak of novel coronavirus in the Wuhan city of Hubei province. The US has also blamed the Xi Jinping for the cover-up.
China called the allegations "slander" and also took offense to Taiwan's decision to donate 100,000 face masks per week to the US. Beijing said the Taiwan's agreement with the US was like "confronting the Motherland."