Taiwan says Australian warship sailed through sensitive Taiwan Strait close to China | Taiwan #Taiwan #Australian #warship #sailed #sensitive #Taiwan #Strait #close #China #Taiwan

Taiwan says an Australian warship has sailed through the Taiwan Strait, the sensitive and narrow waterway that separates the democratically governed island from China.

The ship, which it did not name, entered the strait on Thursday and sailed in a southerly direction, the ministry said on Friday.

Taiwan’s military kept watch throughout, the ministry said, without giving details.

The Guardian has contacted the Australian government for comment.

Euan Graham, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said the Australian navy had previously transited through the Taiwan Strait but “choose not to publicise it”.

The incident comes at a difficult time in Australia-China military relations even as the two countries seek to get diplomatic and trade ties back on track.

Last week, Canberra complained of an incident involving a Chinese warship and an Australian navy vessel in Japan’s exclusive economic zone. Australia said some of its military divers were injured.

The US navy sends ships through the strait about once a month in what it calls “routine” transits. China regularly objects to these.

Taiwan has over the past four years complained of repeated Chinese military activity around the island, especially in the strait.

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Taiwan, whose government rejects China’s sovereignty claims, is gearing up for presidential and parliamentary elections on 13 January.

The Australian navy transits through the Taiwan Strait because it is the shortest route between the East China Sea and South China Sea, Graham said.

“It is just exercising international passage rights through that strait. It is not a contentious area of international law – it’s just that China chooses to make an issue out of it,” he said.

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