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FOX News’ Jennifer Griffin reports from the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California.
China’s military announced Wednesday that its fighter jets shadowed a U.S. Navy aircraft that flew over the Taiwan Strait.
The People’s Liberation Army said it deployed fighters to warn the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and “deal with it in accordance with the law and regulations,” according to Reuters.
“Troops in the theatre are always on high alert and will resolutely defend national sovereignty and security as well as regional peace and stability,” the news agency quoted its Eastern Theatre Command as saying.
China has long claimed to hold sovereignty over the Taiwan Strait and the island itself, something not recognized by the U.S. or international law.
US NAVY RESPONDS AFTER CHINA CLAIMS AMERICAN WARSHIP ‘ILLEGALLY INTRUDED’ INTO THE SOUTH CHINA SEA
A Navy P-8A Poseidon flies over the Pacific Ocean in August 2017. China said Wednesday that its military shadowed one of the planes transiting the Taiwan Strait. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alex Perlman/Reuters)
The U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs Office said the Navy P-8A Poseidon “transited the Taiwan Strait in international airspace on Dec. 6.
“By operating within the Taiwan Strait in accordance with international law, the United States upholds the navigational rights and freedoms of all nations. The aircraft’s transit of the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” it said. “The United States military flies, sails and operates anywhere international law allows.”
Taiwan’s defense ministry said its troops monitored the aircraft as it flew south, describing the situation as “normal,” Reuters reports.
China offered a similar rebuke when another Navy P-8A Poseidon flew through the Taiwan Strait on Oct. 12.
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Philippines BRP Jose Rizal, right, and USS Gabrielle Giffords are seen during a tactical exercise between the Philippines and the United States in the West Philippine Sea on Thursday Nov. 23. China claimed earlier this week that USS Gabrielle Giffords illegally intruded into waters near the Second Thomas Shoal. (Armed Forces of the Philippines via AP)
Taiwan split from mainland China in 1949 when democratic forces fled to the island after losing a civil war to the Chinese Communist Party.
Earlier this week, China accused a U.S. naval ship of having “illegally intruded” into waters near the Second Thomas Shoal, an area of hot territorial dispute between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea.
The Chinese military ordered its naval force to mobilize and track USS Gabrielle Giffords on Monday after China claimed the warship violated its sovereign waters, according to a statement from the People’s Liberation Army Southern Theater.
USS Chung-Hoon observes a Chinese navy ship conduct what it called an “unsafe” Chinese maneuver in the Taiwan Strait on June 3, in which the Chinese navy ship cut sharply across the path of the American destroyer, forcing the U.S. ship to slow to avoid a collision. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Andre T. Richard/U.S. Navy via AP)
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The U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet denied the accusation, saying the ship “was conducting routine operations in international waters … consistent with international law.” USS Gabrielle Giffords is a littoral combat ship designed to operate in coastal areas.
Fox News’ Anders Hagstrom, Lawrence Richard and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Greg Norman is a reporter at Fox News Digital.