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China expresses concerns over US warships in Taiwan Strait

AP  |  Beijing 

said Thursday that it had expressed concerns to the US over the passage of a pair of warships through the Strait, days ahead of a planned meeting between and his Chinese counterpart

told reporters that was the "most important and sensitive issue" in relations between the sides.

"We have expressed our concerns to the US," Geng said at a daily briefing.

"The issue has a bearing on China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is the most important and sensitive issue in China-US ties," Geng said.

China's defence ministry also said it had closely followed the warships' passage.

Monday's passage of the guided missile destroyer USS and guided missile cruiser USS Antietam marked at least the third time this year that the has sailed through the strait that separates Taiwan from mainland

The 160 kilometer-wide waterway is split down the middle between Taiwan and China, but there is no international law restricting civilian or military shipping from passing through it.

Tensions between the two militaries have been high over US challenges to China's claim to sovereignty over virtually the entire Sea.

In late September, a Chinese destroyer came close to colliding with the destroyer USS Decatur in the Sea in what the US called an "unsafe and unprofessional maneuver."

Despite that, contacts between the sides have endured and China gave permission last week for the USS to dock in Hong Kong.

Trump and Xi are due to meet in on Saturday amid tensions over Taiwan, the Sea and an increasingly bitter trade war between the sides.

China regards Taiwan as its own territory to be brought under its control by force if necessary. The sides split amid civil war in 1949 and most Taiwanese favour retaining their current de-facto status of political independence while maintaining close economic ties with China.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, November 29 2018. 18:55 IST