U.S. Sails Warship in Sensitive Strait Between Taiwan and China

For a free Indo-Pacific, says Washington.
Photo/s: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Declan Barnes/Handout via Reuters

TAIPEI -- A U.S. warship has again sailed through the sensitive waterway that separates Taiwan from China, a week after the Chinese-claimed island reported the largest incursion to date of Chinese air force jets in Taiwan's air defense zone.

The U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet said the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur conducted a "routine Taiwan Strait transit" on Tuesday in accordance with international law.

"The ship's transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific."

Taiwan's Defense Ministry said the ship had sailed in a northerly direction through the strait and the "situation was as normal".



The same ship transited the strait a month ago, prompting China to accuse the United States of threatening peace and stability.

The latest mission comes around a week after Taiwan reported 28 Chinese air force aircraft, including fighters and nuclear-capable bombers, entered Taiwan's air defence identification zone (ADIZ).

That incident followed the Group of Seven leaders issuing a joint statement scolding China for a series of issues and underscoring the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, comments China condemned as "slander".

The U.S. Navy has been conducting such operations in the Taiwan Strait every month or so, to the anger of China which always denounces them.

The United States, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic ties with democratic Taiwan but is its most important international backer and a major seller of arms.

Military tension between Taiwan and Beijing have spiked over the past year, with Taipei complaining of China repeatedly sending its air force into Taiwan's air defence zone.

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China has said its activities around Taiwan are aimed at protecting China's sovereignty and deterring foreign forces. Taiwan's government has denounced it as attempts at intimidation.

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