WASHINGTON, June 14 (Reuters) – The United States on Tuesday declared the Taiwan Strait, which separates the island from mainland China, an international waterway, after Beijing claimed possession.
The Taiwan Strait has been a frequent source of military tension since Chinese nationalists took refuge on the island in 1949 after their defeat by the Communists.
In recent years, foreign warships have crossed the strait, angering Beijing.
China’s foreign minister said on Monday that Beijing has “sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the Tawan Strait” adding that statements by “certain countries that the Tawan Strait is part of ‘international waters’ (were) false”.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price wrote in an email to Reuters on Tuesday that “the Taiwan Strait is an international waterway, which means the Taiwan Strait is an area where high freedoms sea, including the freedom of navigation and overflight, are guaranteed by international law.
Earlier in the day, the spokeswoman for Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joanne Ou, called China’s position “misleading”.
China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control and considers the island an inherent part of its territory. (Report David Brunnstrom, Humeyra Pamuk and Michael Martina; French version Camille Raynaud)