US Warships Sail Through Taiwan Strait

2 US warships pass through Taiwan Strait as ‘freedom of navigation’ feud with China escalates

The U.S. Navy sailed two ships through the Taiwan Strait on Monday amid ongoing tensions over freedom of navigation and political strains over trade with China, Stars and Stripes has reported.

US Pacific Fleet spokesman Commander Nate Christensen said that the guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur and the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam took part in the passage operation "in accordance with worldwide law".

Taiwan's premier William Lai said during a parliamentary session Tuesday that Taiwan respected the U.S. right of passage in global waters and recognised "the various efforts of the USA in maintaining peace in the Asia-Pacific Region".

China still sees Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified, despite the two sides being ruled separately since the end of a civil war on the mainland in 1949.

China views Taiwan as a wayward province and has been ramping up pressure to assert its sovereignty over the island. "The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere global law allows".

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Taiwan's defence ministry had said in an earlier statement that the military was "closely monitoring the United States warships during their passage".

The latest operation shows the U.S. Navy is increasing the pace of strait passages.

The Pentagon says Washington has sold Taiwan more than 15 billion dollars in weaponry since 2010. The U.S. Navy has conducted such transits through the Taiwan Strait for years but have not publicized the transits since 2007. The U.S. has also accused China of engaging in cyberattacks against the U.S. government and businesses. -China relationship continues to be US support for Taiwan.

Beijing has stepped up the frequency and scale of military drills around Taiwan since 2016, when the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), a pro-independence party, won the election in Taiwan. That incident followed a string of US Air Force bomber flights through the disputed East and South China Seas, flights Beijing characterised as "provocative". Despite this, Washington has kept informal relations with the island nation after severing diplomatic ties with it in 1979.

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