On Wednesday, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) forces stalked the U.S. Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John Finn as it sailed through the Taiwan Straits. Chinese officials said PLA forces threatened to respond to any provocations or threats posed by the U.S. warship.
Chinese Ambassador Deng Xijun tweeted, “#China’s #PLA Eastern Command tracked &monitored the movement of #USS John Finn #destroyer as it sailed through the #Taiwan Straits ystd (10/3). The US move deliberately creates tensions &disturbs the regional peace &stability.”
Deng shared a photo that appears to have been taken from a close distance to USS John Finn.
In a Thursday statement, PLA Air Force Sen. Col. Zhang Chunhui, spokesperson for the Chinese PLA Eastern Theater Command said, “The US guided-missile destroyer USS John Finn (DDG-113) sailed through the Taiwan Strait on March 10 to hype the so-called ‘freedom of navigation’. China is firmly opposed to it,”
Zhang added, “The US naval vessel’s action sent erroneous signals, deliberately interfered and undermined the regional situation, seriously damaged the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
The PLA statement went on to say, “The troops of the PLA Eastern Theater Command have conducted whole-process tracking and monitoring on the US destroyer, keeping high alert and preparing to respond to all threats and provocations.”
The U.S. Navy 7th Fleet described the USS John Finn’s operations as a routine transit “in accordance with international law.”
The Navy said, “The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military will continue to fly, sail, and operate anywhere international law allows.”
The 7th Fleet also shared footage of the ship’s operations, including a video of a helicopter landing on the ship’s deck.
The 7th Fleet statement made no mention of Chinese activity near the USS John Finn’s operations.
The USS John Finn is operating as part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, lead by USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). The 7th Fleet also comprises the largest forward-deployed fleet and its area of responsibility includes the western Pacific and Indian Oceans.
China has stalked U.S. warships operating near Taiwan in the past. In December, PLA air and naval forces followed USS Mustin as it sailed the Taiwan Strait. In other past cases, China has claimed on multiple occasions that its forces “expelled” U.S. ships operating in certain contested areas like the South China Sea.
The Navy frequently performs freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) throughout the Indo-Pacific, including around the South China Sea and Taiwan, where China has asserted territorial claims.