2 US warships pass through Taiwan Strait as ‘freedom of navigation’ feud with China escalates
23 October, 2018, 14:52
In July, the Navy sent two 7th Fleet destroyers into the straits for what Pacific Fleet officials described as a "routine transit", the first time it had done so since July 2017.
The US Navy put on a show of force on China's doorstep Monday, sending two warships through the tense Taiwan Strait.
The move will likely anger Beijing, which has a territorial claim on Taiwan.
Since the U.S. normalized relations with China, its relationship with Taiwan has been an area of recurring friction with Beijing, though Washington has tended to tread carefully. "The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere global law allows", he stressed.
"The ships' transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific", Commander Nate Christensen, deputy spokesman for U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in a statement.
China expressed concerns to the US after a similar transit by two USA warships in July.
Taiwan's military is fully aware of the passage of the U.S. vessels, and is capable of defending its maritime territory and airspace security, the statement said.
It raised concerns over U.S. policy toward Taiwan in talks earlier with U.S. Defence Secretary, Jim Mattis, in Singapore.
Two U.S. vessels sailed through the Taiwan Strait from waters near Eluanbi, the southern tip of Taiwan island, toward the north on Monday, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense said in a statement on its website. The U.S. has also accused China of engaging in cyberattacks against the U.S. government and businesses. The U.S. continues to sell military weapons to the island nation even though it does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
China considers Taiwan a province of the mainland and officials have stated over the years that the democratic island's continued self-rule can not continue indefinitely.
Military experts say the balance of power between Taiwan and China has shifted decisively in China's favour in recent years, and China could easily overwhelm the island unless US forces came quickly to Taiwan's aid.