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2 US Navy warships sailed through Taiwan Strait, challenging China

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US Navy guided-missile destroyers and guided-missile cruisers
US Navy guided-missile
destroyers and guided-missile cruisers


U.S. Navy photo by
Lt.j.g. Caleb Swigart



  • The US Navy put on a show of force on China’s doorstep
    Monday, sending two warships through the tense Taiwan
    Strait.
  • The destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur and cruiser USS
    Antietam were shadowed by Chinese naval vessels as they
    transited the strait.
  • This rare move comes at a time of heightened tensions
    between the two military powers and is likely to anger Beijing
    despite it being within the bounds of international
    law.

Two US Navy warships have sailed through the Taiwan Strait,
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said in a
statement Monday.

The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur and
Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Antietam traversed the strait
Monday, US Pacific Fleet confirmed to Business Insider. The US
Navy
conducted
a similar operation in July, sending the
destroyers USS Mustin and USS Benfold through the tense
waterway.

The pair of US Navy warships conducted “a routine Taiwan
Strait transit in accordance with international law,” Pacific
Fleet spokesperson Lt. j.g. Rachel McMarr told BI, adding that
the purpose of the mission was to demonstrate “the US commitment
to a free and open Indo-Pacific” and to remind others that “the
US Navy will continue to fly, sail, and operate anywhere
international law allows.”

The latest move comes at a time of heightened tensions between
Washington and Beijing, which have been fighting over a variety
of issues ranging from trade to territorial disputes.

China, concerned that US military actions around Taiwan will
embolden pro-independence factions on the self-ruled island, has
bolstered its military presence in the area this past year. The
Chinese military has sailed its aircraft carrier and accompanying
escort ships through the Taiwan Strait and conducted
“encirclement” exercises involving fighters, bombers and other
military assets throughout the year.

Beijing perceives Taiwan as a breakaway province and has
threatened to take military action if Taiwan attempts to declare
independence.

The US Navy’s latest challenge to China comes just a few weeks
after a showdown in the South China Sea, in which a Chinese
destroyer nearly collided with a US Navy warship during an
“unsafe” encounter following a routine freedom-of-navigation
operation near the contested Spratly Islands. That incident
followed a string of US Air Force bomber flights through the
disputed East and South China Seas, flights Beijing characterized
as “provocative.”

Chinese warships shadowed the US Navy ships through the Taiwan
Strait Monday, but the Chinese ships remained at a safe distance.

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