Brushing off protests, U.S. warships sail through Taiwan Strait

Two U.S. Navy warships sail through Taiwan Strait
2 US warships pass through Taiwan Strait as ‘freedom of navigation’ feud with China escalates
Author

24 October, 2018

The U.S. Navy sailed two warships through the Taiwan Strait for the second time since July, a show of force that threatens to further exacerbate tensions with China.

"USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) and USS Antietam (CG 54) conducted a routine Taiwan Strait Transit on October 22, in accordance with worldwide law", Cmdr.

Premier William Lai (賴清德) yesterday said Taiwan respects the US' right to exercise freedom of navigation in global seas, after a reporter asked at a Legislative Yuan news conference whether the U.S. gave prior notification to Taiwan of the activity.

The warships passed through Taiwan Strait as the US military increases the frequency of transits through the strategic waterway despite opposition from China.

China said Tuesday it has expressed concern to the United States over what it considered an affront to its sovereignty after two U.S. warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait.

Chinese security experts blasted the move by saying it suggests Washington would stand by Taiwan in case of a crisis with China.

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

Multiple Chinese warships shadowed the two U.S. vessels during the transit, following at a safe distance.

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

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

While the US and China cooperate in denuclearizing North Korea, tensions have increased as both the USA and China have engaged in a trade war. -China relationship continues to be US support for Taiwan.

China has also alarmed Taiwan by ramping up military exercises this year, including flying bombers and other military aircraft around the island and sending its aircraft carrier through the narrow Taiwan Strait separating it from Taiwan. Despite this, Washington has kept informal relations with the island nation after severing diplomatic ties with it in 1979.


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