Taipei on Tuesday condemned China for saying the Taiwan Strait is not international waters, and accused Beijing of trying to endanger regional peace with its territorial claim over it.
Taiwan lives under the constant threat of invasion by Beijing, which views the self-ruled democratic island as part of its territory to be re-taken one day, by force if necessary.
The narrow waterway that separates Taiwan and mainland China is a flashpoint, with Beijing often reacting angrily to passages by foreign warships.
The United States and other countries view the Strait as international waters open to all.
But on Monday, Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, said “China has sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the Taiwan Strait”.
“It is a false claim when certain countries call the Taiwan Strait ‘international waters’ in order to find a pretext for manipulating issues related to Taiwan and threatening China’s sovereignty and security,” he added.
Taipei on Tuesday hit back, criticising Beijing’s remarks as “wrong” and “unacceptable”.
“China… blatantly violates Taiwan’s sovereignty and damages international maritime order to endanger regional peace and stability,” the ruling Democratic Progressive Party said in a statement.
The foreign ministry condemned Beijing for “deliberately distorting international rules to belittle the Taiwan Strait as its own Exclusive Economic Zone”.
“China’s attempt to annex Taiwan is obvious,” it said in a statement, adding that Taipei supports “freedom of navigation” passages by US ships.
US warships periodically sail through the Taiwan Strait, while British, Canadian, French and Australian warships have all made passages in recent years.
In March, China’s Shandong aircraft carrier and a US destroyer transited through the strait, shortly before Chinese President Xi Jinping issued a warning to Joe Biden that ties could suffer if there was a “mishandling” of Taiwan’s status.