Two U.S. Warships Complete Transit of Flashpoint Taiwan Strait

The US Navy's guided missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG-54) is seen docked at a port in Mani

A pair of U.S. warships sailed through the flashpoint Taiwan Strait on Sunday in the first such transit since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s surprise visit to Taiwan earlier month.

The guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam and USS Chancellorsville conducted a routine passage, the U.S. 7th Fleet said.

The warships “transited through a corridor in the Strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal State,” the statement, issued from fleet headquarters in Japan, outlined.

“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows,” the statement added.

China said it tracked the movement of the ships. “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.

China regards Taiwan as its territory and has vowed repeatedly to seize it one day, by force if necessary.

Washington says the strait is an international waterway and it is also bound to stand by its ally despite China’s repeated threats of aggression.

The U.S. regularly sends its ships through the Taiwan Strait as part of what it calls freedom of navigation maneuvers.

The 100 mile-wide  strait divides Taiwan from China.

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