United States warships sail in disputed waters

Two American warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait in a move bound to aggravate China amid heightened tensions with Beijing.

"The ships' transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the USA commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific".

China's foreign ministry has since responded, "expressing concern" at the presence of USA warships in the strait.

A pair of U.S. naval vessels sailed through Taiwan Strait in a move that may further exacerbate the already strained relations between Beijing and Washington, with Taiwan's defense ministry claiming that it was in full control of the situation. China maintains Taiwan is a breakaway province and not an independent nation.

"The DOD will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever worldwide law permits", said Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Rob Manning.

It is the second time this year that the U.S. Navy has conducted such a transit; the first occurred in June.

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

Taiwan's defence ministry had said in an earlier statement that the military was "closely monitoring the United States warships during their passage".

It raised concerns over U.S. policy toward Taiwan in talks earlier with U.S. Defence Secretary, Jim Mattis, in Singapore.

This came after the Chinese military conducted large-scale military exercises in the Taiwan Strait in April.

While the US and China cooperate in denuclearizing North Korea, tensions have increased as both the USA and China have engaged in a trade war. The U.S. acknowledges China's stance but provides Taiwan with defense equipment and opposes reunification by force. Since the election of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen from a pro-independence party in 2016, Beijing has cut off formal communication with Taipei and stepped up military exercises in the area. "The Secretary reassured Minister Wei that we haven't changed our Taiwan policy, our one China policy", Randall Schriver, a USA assistant secretary of defence who helps guide Pentagon policy in Asia, told reporters traveling with Mattis. Despite this, Washington has kept informal relations with the island nation after severing diplomatic ties with it in 1979.

  • Rogelio Becker