Two US warships sailed through the volatile Taiwan Strait on Thursday, the US Navy said, in the second such mission this month, coming almost two weeks after a Chinese aircraft carrier group used the same sensitive waterway, Reuters is reporting.
China, which claims democratic Taiwan as its own territory, has been angered by increasing US support for the beleaguered island, which has included arms sales and sailing warships through the Taiwan Strait, further souring Beijing-Washington relations.
The US Navy said the guided missile destroyers USS John S McCain and USS Curtis Wilbur had “conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit on Dec 31 in accordance with international law”.
The statement continued: “The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The US military will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows.”
This is the 13th sailing through the strait by the US Navy this year.
China’s military said it had tailed the last US warship to pass through the Taiwan Strait on Dec 19 and denounced the mission while claiming to have chased the US destroyer out of the South China Sea.
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 way to routine drills in the disputed South China Sea.