U.S. warships pass through Taiwan Strait amid China tensions

Navy vessel DDG-89 which sailed through the Taiwan Strait in July 2018.(Image credit

Two U.S. Navy warships sailed through the global waters of the Taiwan Strait on Monday, the body of water separating China and Taiwan, the island nation that China considers a breakaway province.

"USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) and USS Antietam (CG 54) conducted a routine Taiwan Strait Transit on October 22, 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".

This U.S. Navy photo obtained June 24 shows the guided-missile cruiser U.S.S. Antietam pulling alongside the Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Ronald Reagan during a fueling at sea on June 21 in the Philippine Sea.

The last time United States naval vessels passed through the strait was in July.

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The move "demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific", spokesman for the US Pacific Fleet Commander Nate Christensen was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying.

"The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere global law allows", he said.

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. The U.S. has also accused China of engaging in cyberattacks against the U.S. government and businesses. Since the election of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen from a pro-independence party in 2016, Beijing has cut off formal communication with Taipei and stepped up military exercises in the area.

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. Despite this, Washington has kept informal relations with the island nation after severing diplomatic ties with it in 1979.

China has become increasingly aggressive in the Taiwan Strait towards Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province and not a separate country.

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