US Navy sends 2 cruisers through Taiwan Strait

Published Sun, Aug 28, 2022 · 06:55 PM

US Navy warships have entered the Taiwan Strait for the first time since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-ruled island tested ties between Washington and Beijing.

The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam and USS Chancellorsville are conducting a routine transit through a corridor of the strait beyond the territorial sea of any state, the 7th Fleet said in a Sunday (Aug 28) statement.

“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the Fleet’s commander said.

The Chinese military followed the US cruisers, the People’s Liberation Army said in a separate statement, adding that it was on high alert to defeat any provocations. 

The Biden administration vowed to continue such routine transits after China responded to Pelosi’s landmark trip to Taipei earlier this month by firing ballistic missiles over Taiwan. China considers the self-ruled island its territory and protests diplomatic exchanges with Taipei. 

The US has conducted an average of 9 annual trips through the strait over the past decade, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, as part of freedom of navigation exercises. The last known US transit of the strait before Sunday was on July 19, when the destroyer the USS Benfold sailed through the waterway. 

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China’s ambassador to Washington, Qin Gang, earlier this month called on the US to refrain from sailing naval vessels through the Taiwan Strait, saying Beijing viewed such transits as an escalation by the US and an effort to support the “separatist” government in Taipei. 

Hu Xijin, former editor of the Communist Party’s Global Times, wrote on Twitter that Sunday’s transit was the US military’s “new provocation”. 

“The US is a very unfriendly force,” he added. “The resolution of Taiwan question should speed up to eliminate a leverage of external forces in undermining China’s rise.” BLOOMBERG

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