Two U.S. Navy warships sail through Taiwan Strait

by Garry Watts October 24, 2018, 1:05
Two U.S. Navy warships sail through Taiwan Strait

Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) confirmed Monday evening that two USA warships are moving northward from Eluanbi through Taiwan Strait on October 22.

"USS Curtis Wilbur and USS Antietam conducted a routine Taiwan Strait Transit on October 22, in accordance with global law", Cmdr.

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.

China's foreign ministry has since responded, "expressing concern" at the presence of US warships in the strait.

The United States sent two warships through the Taiwan Strait on Monday in the second of such operation this year, amid China tensions.

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

USS Antietam
USS Antietam. File

The latest operation shows the U.S. Navy is increasing the pace of strait passages.

"The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere worldwide law allows", he added. The U.S. Navy has conducted such transits through the Taiwan Strait for years but have not publicized the transits since 2007.

Taiwan's Defense Ministry first confirmed the transit in a statement.

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. 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 views Taiwan as a wayward province and has been ramping up pressure to assert its sovereignty over the island. Despite this, Washington has kept informal relations with the island nation after severing diplomatic ties with it in 1979.

There are also tensions between the two countries over China's growing military presence on man-made islands in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

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