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US Warship Transits Taiwan Strait After Biden-Xi Summit

Chinese President Xi Jinping warned his US counterpart Joe Biden that encouraging Taiwanese independence would be "playing with fire".

A US warship sailed through the strait separating Taiwan and China on Tuesday, the navy said, the first such passage since leaders from the two rival superpowers held a video summit.

The passage through the Taiwan Strait by the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius was a routine transit, the US Seventh Fleet said.

The voyage, the 11th declared freedom of navigation exercise of the year, “demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” it said in a statement.

The latest transit came after US President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping traded strong warnings on the future of Taiwan at a virtual summit earlier this month.

Chinese state media reported after the summit that Xi cautioned Biden that encouraging Taiwanese independence would be “playing with fire.”

US warships periodically conduct exercises in the strait, often triggering angry responses from Beijing, which claims Taiwan and surrounding waters as its own territory.

The US and many other countries view the route as international waters open to all.

A growing number of US allies have transited the route as Beijing intensifies its military threats towards Taiwan and solidifies 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 China.

Collin Koh, a research fellow at Singapore’s S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, keeps a database of declared US transits through the Taiwan Straits.

Nine were conducted in 2019 followed by 15 in 2020. So far this year there have been 11, including the USS Milius crossing.

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