Beijing condemned the move as an “attempt to disrupt and undermine regional peace and stability.”
A US destroyer crossed the waterway between Taiwan and China, the US Navy said, the first such passage since the leaders of the two superpowers held a rare video summit earlier this month.
The passage through the Taiwan Strait of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius was a routine transit, the U.S. Seventh Fleet said in a statement.
The trip “demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the statement said.
The move comes after US President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping exchanged strong warnings over Taiwan’s future at a virtual summit earlier this month.
Chinese state media reported that Xi had warned Biden that encouraging Taiwan independence would be “playing with fire.”
In October, Biden appeared to break with a long-standing US policy of strategic ambiguity regarding Taiwan, saying Washington would stand up for Taipei in the event of a Chinese attack.
The White House then backtracked on the statement, saying the United States’ stance on Taiwan remains unchanged.
While Washington does not officially recognize Taiwan’s sovereignty, it has for decades provided support, including military training and weapons, to the island, which Beijing regards as a renegade region.
Washington and Taipei held their second annual economic dialogue this week.
In October, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen confirmed for the first time in years that US military personnel were present on the island as part of a training mission.
“Stop causing trouble”
U.S. warships periodically conduct exercises in the Taiwan Strait, often triggering angry reactions from Beijing, which views the waters as part of its territory. The United States and many other countries consider the highway to be international waters open to all.
A growing number of U.S. allies have moved through the road as Beijing steps up its military threats to Taiwan and seeks to tighten its control over the disputed South China Sea.
British, Canadian, French and Australian warships have all made passages through the Taiwan Strait in recent years, sparking protests from Beijing.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian called the latest transit “a deliberate attempt to disrupt and undermine regional peace and stability.”
“The United States should immediately correct its mistake, stop causing trouble, crossing the line and playing with fire,” he warned.
Collin Koh, a researcher at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, maintains a database of reported US transits through the Taiwan Strait.
Nine were conducted in 2019, followed by 15 in 2020. So far this year there have been 11, including the USS Milius crossing.