Two U.S. Navy warships sail through Taiwan Strait

Oct 24, 2018, 01:06
Two U.S. Navy warships sail through Taiwan Strait

Monday was the second time in the space of three months that American warships had conducted so-called "freedom of navigation" exercises in the Taiwan Strait, a 180-kilometre wide stretch of water separating the Chinese mainland and the self-ruled democratic island.

The USS Antietam and USS Curtis Wilbur sailed north through the Taiwan Strait Monday.

Taiwan's defence ministry confirmed the transit saying "US ships routinely passed the global waters of the Taiwan Strait".

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The operation is said to ensure the U.S.'s free passage through the strategic waterway, according to a Reuters report on Saturday.

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

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

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Last month, after the USA authorization of a US$330 million arms sale to Taiwan, China's foreign ministry spokesman said the move "undermines China's sovereignty and security interests", adding that Beijing expressed its "strong dissatisfaction" and "resolute opposition".

The passage of the two warships through the Strait was the second time since July, a show of USA force that threatens to further exacerbate tensions between China and the rest of the region. -China relationship continues to be US support for Taiwan.

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. In 1996, China conducted a series of missile tests nearby a small Taiwan-controlled island as a show of strength, after Beijing's government accused Taiwan of independence sentiments in the runup to a presidential election on the island. Taiwan receives support and defense funding from the United States in line with a 1979 bilateral agreement.

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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. Chinese ships have used force and coercion to prevent access to islands in the region claimed by smaller nations, US officials have repeatedly said.