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US warships' passage through Taiwan Strait fully known, being closely followed, says China

US warships Photo: Fox News

China has urged the US to exercise caution in dealing with the Taiwan question after two US Navy destroyers sailed through the Taiwan Strait amid an ongoing trade war between the two powers.

"China has closely followed and knows fully well the whole process of the US warships' sailing through the Taiwan Strait. We have expressed our concerns to the US side on this," Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at Sunday's press conference.

"It must be pointed out that the Taiwan question bears on China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and it is the most important and sensitive issue in China-US relations."

"We urge the US side to earnestly abide by the one-China principle and the stipulations in the three China-US joint communiqués and prudently and properly handle the Taiwan-related issues, lest it should undermine China-US ties and the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," she added.

Asked whether US warships' sailing through the Taiwan Strait was related to China-US trade war, Hua said, "I have made clear China's position just now. I can give you a principled response. The sound and steady development of China-US relations, the proper handling of differences in the spirit of mutual respect and the expansion of cooperation under the principle of mutual benefit serve the common interests of our two countries and represent the shared aspirations of the international community. We hope that the US side can respect China's core interests and major concerns and meet the Chinese side halfway."

Complex background

News of US warships sailing through the Taiwan Strait comes just days after the trade disputes between China and the US escalated into a full-blown trade war.

The Trump administration slapped a 25 percent tariff on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods from midnight Washington time on July 6.

China immediately retaliated by imposing a similar 25 percent tariff on 545 US goods, also worth a total of $34 billion, and accused the US of "launching the biggest trade war in economic history."

US President Donald Trump has threatened to further impose tariffs worth hundreds of billions of dollars on Chinese imports to the US.

Earlier on Jun 27, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis made his first trip to Beijing, the first by a pentagon chief since 2014.

Mattis met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chinese military leaders inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. 

"Our stance is steadfast and clear-cut when it comes to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Xi told Mattis. "Any inch of territory passed down from ancestors cannot be lost while we want nothing from others."

Mainland China and Taiwan have been governed separately since the end of the Chinese Civil War nearly 70 years ago.

The government in Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway province that must be reunited with the mainland China, by force if necessary.

Despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties, Taiwan remains an important American ally in the region, and the Trump administration has sought closer ties between Washington and Taipei.

The US also continues to sell advanced weapons to Taiwan to aid in its defense as part of the requirements under the Taiwan Relations Act, actions that are met with strong condemnation from Beijing.

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