US warships transit through Taiwan Strait, first since Pelosi’s visit
The Taiwan Strait, located between the southeast coast of China and Taiwan.
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Two U.S. Navy warships sailed through international waters in the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, the first such operation since U.S. President Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which angered China, which considers the island as its territory.
The US Navy, confirming a Reuters report, said the cruisers Chancellorsville and Antietam were conducting the ongoing operation. Such operations usually take eight to 12 hours and are closely monitored by the Chinese military.
In recent years, US warships, and sometimes those from allied nations such as Britain and Canada, have routinely sailed through the strait, angering China’s claim to Taiwan over the objections of its democratically elected government. .
Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan in early August infuriated China, which saw it as a US attempt to interfere in its internal affairs. China then launched military exercises near the island which have continued ever since.
“These (US) vessels transited through a corridor in the strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal state,” the US Navy said.
The operation demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, and the United States military flies, sails and operates wherever international law permits, the Navy said.
The Chinese army’s Eastern Theater Command said it was tracking ships and warning them.
“Troops in theater remain on high alert and are ready to counter any provocation at any time,” he added in a statement.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said the ships were sailing south and its forces were watching but “the situation was normal”.
The narrow Taiwan Strait has been a frequent source of military tension since the defeated Republic of China government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war with the Communists, who established the People’s Republic of China .
Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was followed about a week later by a group of five other US lawmakers, as the Chinese military responded with more drills near the island.
Senator Marsha Blackburn, a U.S. lawmaker on the Senate Commerce and Armed Services Committees, arrived in Taiwan on Thursday in the third visit by a U.S. dignitary this month, defying pressure from China to halt travel.
US President Joe Biden’s administration has sought to prevent tension between Washington and Beijing from escalating into conflict, reiterating that trips to Congress are routine.
The United States does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan but is required by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.
China has never ruled out using force to bring Taiwan under its control.
Taiwan claims that the People’s Republic of China has never ruled the island and therefore has no rights to it, and that only Taiwan’s 23 million people can decide their future.