The United States of America has issued an indirect challenge to Beijing by sailing one of its naval warships through the sensitive Taiwan strait, in what the US claims is a routine military exercise but which has angered China each time when conducted previously.
The US Navy said the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Milius conducted a "routine Taiwan Strait transit" through international waters in accordance with international law. It has also proclaimed that the US military will fly, sail and operate "anywhere international law allows" according to Reuters. In addition to this, the Navy declared that the ships transit marked the commitment of America to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
A similar exercise was conducted last month which prompted China to lash out at the American military for what it claims is an attempt to deliberately stoke tensions in the area. China has repeatedly asserted the claim over Taiwan, which it refuses to recognise as an independent country. The USA has no formal ties with Taiwan but is one of its most prominent backers and arms suppliers. In a CNN interview in October, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said small number of US forces are in Taiwan to train with Taiwanese soldiers.
China claims democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory, and has mounted repeated air force missions into Taiwan's air defence identification zone (ADIZ) over the past year or so, provoking anger in Taipei. To counter rising Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacifi region, the US has inked the billion-dollar AUKUS pact with Australia and Britain to provide nuclear submarine technology and information to Australia to expand its influence in the area.