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    China Says U.S. to Blame for Tensions Over Taiwan | World News

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    BEIJING (Reuters) – Beijing blamed the United States on Thursday for tensions over Taiwan after a U.S. warship sailed close to the Chinese-claimed island, asking rhetorically whether China would sail in the Gulf of Mexico as a “show of strength”.

    The democratically-run island has complained of repeated military activities by Beijing in recent months, with China’s air force making almost daily forays into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone.

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    On Monday, China said an aircraft carrier group was exercising close to the island, and on Wednesday a U.S. warship sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait that separates the island from its giant neighbour.

    Speaking at a daily news briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said U.S. ships engaging in “provocations” “send a seriously wrong signal to the forces of Taiwan independence, threatening peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait”.

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    “Would a Chinese warship go to the Gulf of Mexico to make a show of strength?” he added.

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    The U.S. Navy has been regularly conducting what it calls “routine” transits of the Taiwan Strait.

    Washington has expressed its concern about a pattern of Chinese intimidation efforts in the region, including towards Taiwan, reiterating that the U.S. commitment to Taiwan is “rock solid”.

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    China believes the United States is colluding with Taiwan to challenge Beijing and giving support to those who want the island to declare formal independence.

    Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen says they are already an independent country called the Republic of China, the island’s official name.

    Taiwan is China’s most sensitive territorial issue and a major bone of contention between Beijing and Washington.

    “This is China’s airspace,” the Chinese pilot says, in a recording the paper said was made on Tuesday while he was on duty cruising southwest of Taiwan.

    (Reporting by Gabriel Crossley; Writing an additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Editing by Kim Coghill)

    Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

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