Ministry confirms United States warships' Strait activity

Two American warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait in a move bound to aggravate China amid heightened tensions with Beijing.

The USS Antietam, a guided missile cruiser, and the USS Curtis Wilbur, a guided missile destroyer, traveled through the strait Monday, sailing from south to north, the US Navy said, confirming earlier reports from Taiwan's Defense Ministry.

"The ships' transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific". Nate Christensen, deputy spokesman for the U.S.

Two US warships made a "routine passage" through the Taiwan Strait on Monday, in a move that is sure to ruffle feathers in Beijing as its relations with Washington continue to deteriorate. Beijing regards Taiwan as a breakaway province to be taken back, by force if necessary. "The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere worldwide law allows", he stressed.

A guided-missile destroyer and guided-missile cruiser both made the politically sensitive trip, the first such voyage by U.S. vessels since July.

The Pentagon says Washington has sold Taiwan more than 15 billion dollars in weaponry since 2010.

Taiwan's Defense Ministry first confirmed the transit in a statement. "Taiwan might talk up its asymmetric warfare capabilities, but without the US, Taiwan would be dead".

This came after the Chinese military conducted large-scale military exercises in the Taiwan Strait in April. The U.S. has also accused China of engaging in cyberattacks against the U.S. government and businesses. It has carried out numerous military exercises in the Taiwan Strait, and persuaded several nations to switch diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China. Taiwan receives support and defense funding from the United States in line with a 1979 bilateral agreement. "The Secretary reassured Minister Wei that we haven't changed our Taiwan policy, our one China policy", Randall Schriver, a USA assistant secretary of defence who helps guide Pentagon policy in Asia, told reporters traveling with Mattis. Chinese ships have used force and coercion to prevent access to islands in the region claimed by smaller nations, US officials have repeatedly said.

  • Jon Douglas