Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius, DDG 69, sails the South China (Picture: US Department of Defense).
China

China accuses US of 'stirring up trouble' after US Navy destroyer sails through Taiwan Strait

The US Navy said the ship's passage through the Taiwan Strait demonstrated "the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific".

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius, DDG 69, sails the South China (Picture: US Department of Defense).

China has protested about the passage of a US Navy destroyer through the Taiwan Strait.

In a statement, the US Navy said USS Milius "conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit", "in accordance with international law".

They added that the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer's transit demonstrated "the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific".

"The United States military flies, sails and operates anywhere international law allows," said the statement posted on the website of the 7th Fleet.

However, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said US warships have been "flexing muscle and stirring up trouble in the Taiwan Strait repeatedly in the name of freedom of navigation".

Watch: Target practice? China's mock-ups of US Navy warships.

"This is not a commitment to freedom and openness, but a deliberate attempt to disrupt and undermine regional peace and stability," Zhao Lijian told reporters at a daily news briefing.

US Navy ships routinely pass through the Taiwan Strait, which lies in international waters and is a main conduit between the South China Sea and northern waters used by China, Japan, South Korea and others.

Beijing's protest follows Taiwan's introduction of upgraded F-16V fighter jets into its air force to help counter the threat from increasing numbers of incursions by Chinese warplanes into the air space around the island.

Beijing claims the self-ruled island of Taiwan as its own territory to be annexed by force if necessary.

The US has only unofficial relations with Taiwan, but provides the island with defensive weapons and is legally bound to regard threats to the island as matters of "grave concern".