An American warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait, the US Navy and Taiwanese authorities said on Thursday, a day after China - which views Taiwan as a renegade province - unveiled a defence white paper threatening to use force to thwart any move towards the self-ruled island's independence, and accusing the United States of undermining global stability.
It also followed an unprecedented joint Chinese-Russian air force exercise this week that triggered furious protests of airspace violations from South Korea and Japan.
According to the US Navy's Seventh Fleet, a guided-missile cruiser conducted a routine transit through the narrow waterway separating the Chinese mainland and Taiwan. The transit "demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific", the Fleet said in a statement. "The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows."
American warships periodically conduct navigation exercises in the waterway, sparking angry responses from China.
But Beijing's reaction to the latest sail-by was relatively restrained, with foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying saying China had "expressed its concerns to the American side".
Hua said China urges the United States to "treat Taiwanese issues with care and diligence so as not to undermine Sino-American relations and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait".
China views any ships passing through the strait as a breach of its sovereignty, while the US and many other nations view the route as international waters open to all. Last month, a Canadian frigate and a support vessel also passed through the strait in a recent string of such transits.