Published: Wed, October 24, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

U.S. warships pass through Taiwan Strait amid China tensions

U.S. warships pass through Taiwan Strait amid China tensions

A pair of USA warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Monday, a welcome show of support for America's friends in Taiwan and the right to open navigation in worldwide waters.

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".

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

This U.S. Navy photo obtained June 24 shows the guided-missile cruiser U.S.S. Antietam pulling alongside the Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Ronald Reagan during a fueling at sea on June 21 in the Philippine Sea.

China still sees Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified, despite the two sides being ruled separately since the end of a civil war on the mainland in 1949. Beijing regards Taiwan as a breakaway province to be taken back, by force if necessary. "The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere worldwide law allows".

Taiwan's defence ministry said it closely monitored the operation and was able to "maintain the security of the seas and the airspace" as it occurred.

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

As the United States prepared for a fresh passage through the strait, it told China's military that its overall policy toward Taiwan was unchanged.

In response, the US sent two aircraft carrier groups through the Taiwan Strait.

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.

It has also viewed US overtures toward Taiwan with alarm, including its unveiling a new de facto embassy in Taiwan and passage of the Taiwan Travel Act, which encourages USA officials to visit the island.

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.

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