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China says it "organized troops" after U.S. spy plane flew over Taiwan Strait

Chinese military officials denounced the United States in a public statement this week, after a patrol and reconnaissance aircraft operated by the U.S. Navy flew over the Taiwan Strait on Monday.

The aircraft, a Boeing P-8A Poseidon spy jet developed for maritime surveillance, search and rescue missions and antisubmarine warfare, flew over the waterway in international airspace, the U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement

However, Chinese authorities claimed the warplane "deliberately disrupted the regional situation and jeopardized the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," in remarks published on the government website affiliated with the People's Liberation Army.

U.S. 7th Fleet / Facebook

Tensions over the Taiwan Strait, a waterway measuring about 110 miles wide that separates Taiwan from continental Asia, have intermittently sprung up between the U.S. and China for years. Beijing has and continues to closely surveil the island, which is technically called the Republic of China and which the Chinese Communist Party has claimed, even though Taiwan functions as an independent and democratically ruled nation.

Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense reported 14 PLA aircraft and three naval vessels in the area surrounding the island early on Tuesday morning. The defense ministry said that Taiwan's Armed Forces "have monitored the situation" and dispatched aircraft, naval vessels and land-based missile systems "to respond to these activities."

Four of the PLA aircraft had crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, which was historically marked and used to designate a separation between PRC and Taiwanese waters, on Tuesday morning, according to the defense ministry.

Condemning the U.S. warplane's presence over the Taiwan Strait and alleging that the U.S. "hyped this publicly," the Chinese military also released a statement that it attributed to Army Senior Colonel Shi Yi, spokesperson for the Chinese PLA Eastern Theater Command, in response to the Poseidon. 

Army Senior Colonel Shi Yi, spokesperson for the Chinese PLA Eastern Theater Command said in a statement released by the military that "the PLA Eastern Theater Command had organized troops to track and monitor the US aircraft in the whole course, and had everything under control." According to the military's statement, "the troops of the PLA Eastern Theater Command remain on high alert at all times to resolutely safeguard China's national sovereignty and territorial integrity."

U.S. 7th Fleet / Facebook

The U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet said in its own statement about Monday's flight over the Taiwan Strait that the lawful transit "demonstrates the United States' commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific."

"The United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate anywhere international law allows including within the Taiwan Strait," the Navy stated. "By operating within the Taiwan Strait in accordance with international law, the United States upholds the navigational rights and freedoms of all nations."

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