TAIPEI, Taiwan — The U.S. Navy sailed two warships through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, in the first such transit publicized since U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan earlier in August, at a time when tensions have kept the waterway particularly busy.
U.S. 7th Fleet stated that the USS Antietam, USS Chancellorsville were performing a routine transatlantic transit. The cruisers “transited through a corridor in the Strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal State,” the statement said.
China conducted many military exercises in the strait as it sought to punish Taiwan after Pelosi visited the self-ruled island against Beijing’s threats.
China has sent many warships sailing in the Taiwan Strait and waters surrounding Taiwan since Pelosi’s visit, as well as sending warplanes and firing long-range missiles. China regards the island as part its territory. It opposes foreign governments visiting Taiwan to recognize Taiwan.
China stated that it monitored the ship’s movements. “Troops of the (Eastern) Theater Command are on high alert and ready to foil any provocation at any time,” said senior Col. Shi Yi, spokesperson for the People Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, speaking on CNN on Sunday, said the transit sent a “very clear message, very consistent message … that the United States Navy, the United States military will sail, fly and operate wherever international law permits us to do so.”
Kirby also noted the transit was “very consistent with our ‘One China’ policy, very consistent with our desire to make sure that we can continue to work toward a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Regularly, the U.S. sends its ships across Taiwan Strait to practice what it calls “freedom of navigation maneuvers”.
Taiwan and China are separated by the strait, which is approximately 100 miles (160 kilometers) wide.
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