China tracks Navy destroyer in Taiwan Strait, accuses US of undermining regional stability

Navy's transit followed a display of force in the South China Sea that included at least 10 Chinese bombers

The Chinese military accused the United States of undermining regional peace and stability after the U.S. Navy sailed a destroyer through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday.

Zhang Chunhui, a spokesperson for the Eastern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), said the Chinese military was tracking the USS Curtis Wilbur as it moved through the region.

"The move artificially creates risk factors in the Taiwan Strait, deliberately undermines regional peace and stability, we are firmly opposed to this," Chunhui said.

Hong Kong - November 24, 2018 : USS Curtis Wilbur arrived in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong - November 24, 2018 : USS Curtis Wilbur arrived in Hong Kong. (iStock)

However, the U.S. Navy contested those claims, instead insisting that the destroyer conducted "routine" transit through the strait "in accordance with international law." Lt. James Adams, U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesperson, told Fox News that the Chinese statement about the transit was "false."

"This transit demonstrates U.S. willingness to fly, sail, and operate anywhere international law allows," Adams said.

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The 7th Fleet insisted that the transit is part of "the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific."

The transit followed an apparent display of force on Tuesday, which included at least 10 Chinese bombers practicing maritime strike exercises in the South China Sea.

Hong Kong - November 24, 2018 : USS Curtis Wilbur arrived in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong - November 24, 2018 : USS Curtis Wilbur arrived in Hong Kong. (iStock)

The bombers were the Chinese navy’s most advanced H-6J bomber, according to the South China Morning Post.

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Military experts said the exercises aimed to show China’s strength and ability to respond to U.S. activity in the region.

"This is to show that the Chinese military is capable of countering and closely following what the U.S. is doing, and that it is in control of the situation," said Yue Gang, a retired PLA colonel.

This is the second transit by a U.S. Navy vessel through the Taiwan Strait in February, and the second of the Biden administration.

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The USS John S. McCain last passed through the strait on Feb. 4, which the 7th Fleet also called a "routine operation."