(Reuters) — A US warship once again crossed the sensitive Taiwan Strait on Tuesday, in what Washington calls routine activity. Shortly afterwards, the Chinese government stated that the act amounted to “playing with fire.”

The US Navy said the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius made a “routine transit through the Taiwan Strait” through international waters, in accordance with international law.

“The transit of the ship through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The United States Armed Forces fly, navigate and operate anywhere international law allows,” he added.

China responded shortly after, claiming that the United States had “crossed the line and played with fire.”

A general view of the USS Milius, a multi-mission capable guided missile destroyer, in 2012. (Credit: NOEL CELIS / AFP / GettyImages)

“This is not a commitment to freedom and openness, but a deliberate attempt to disrupt and undermine regional peace and stability,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in a briefing on Tuesday. . “American warships have been exercising their power and provocations in the Taiwan Strait under the pretext of freedom of navigation.”

Zhao said China closely followed and kept abreast of the transit of the US warship, and that the country “will resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.” The spokesperson also said that China urges the United States to immediately correct its mistakes and stop seeking disputes. Instead, the United States should play a constructive role in regional peace and stability, Zhao said.

Last month, the Chinese military condemned the United States and Canada for each sending a warship through the Taiwan Strait, saying they were threatening peace and stability in the region.

The Taiwan Strait, located between the southeast coast of mainland China and Taiwan, on October 29, 2018.

China claims that Taiwan is part of its own territory, and has staged repeated air force missions to Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the past year, drawing ire from Taipei.

The United States, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but is its main international sponsor and supplier of arms.

Beijing considers Taiwan to be the most sensitive and important issue in its relations with Washington.

US Navy ships have been passing through the strait about once a month, sparking anger in Beijing. US allies also occasionally send ships across the strait, including the UK, which did so in September.

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