Taipei, Taiwan – Two U.S. warships sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait on Thursday, the U.S. Navy said, the second such mission this month and coming almost two weeks after a Chinese warship group used the identical waterway.
China, which claims democratically run Taiwan as its own territory, has been angered by stepped-up U.S. support for the island, including arms sales and sailing warships through the Taiwan Strait, further souring Beijing-Washington relations.
The U.S. Navy said the guided-missile destroyers USS John S. McCain and USS Curtis Wilbur had “conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit Dec. 31 in accordance with international law”.
“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. US military will still fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows.”
This is the 13th sailing through the strait by the U.S. Navy this year.
Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said the ships had sailed in a northerly direction through the strait on what it termed an “ordinary mission”. Taiwan’s militia monitored the sailing and also the situation is “as normal”, it added.
China’s Defence Ministry issued no immediate response.
China’s military said it had tailed the last U.S. warship to taste the Taiwan Strait on December 19, and denounced the mission.
The day after that trip, Taiwan’s navy and air force deployed as a Chinese aircraft carrier group led by the country’s newest carrier, the Shandong, sailed through the Taiwan Strait.
China said the group was on its thanks to routine drills within the disputed South China Sea.
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