• MARCH 28, 2023

Two US warships sail through Taiwan Strait

USS Chancellorsville is part of the operation. COURTESY

  • Asia
  • BBC
  • Published: 28 Aug 2022, 12:07 PM

Two US warships are passing through the Taiwan Strait, the US Navy has announced. It is the first such operation to take place since tensions between Taiwan and China increased following a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan earlier in August.

China reacted by holding large-scale military drills in the area. The US and some other Western navies routinely sailed through the strait in recent years.

Washington says the two guided-missile cruisers - the USS Antietam and the USS Chancellorsville - are demonstrating freedom of navigation through international waters.

Beijing views such actions as provocative and maintains that the island of Taiwan is an integral part of Chinese territory.

The US Navy said in a statement that the transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrated the "United States' commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific".

"These ships transited through a corridor in the strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal state," the statement added.

Taiwan is self-ruled, but China sees it as a breakaway province with which it will eventually unite.

Taiwan has become yet another flashpoint amid heightened tensions and sharp rhetoric between Washington and Beijing in recent years, with the US walking a diplomatic tightrope on the issue.

The US abides by the "One China" policy - a cornerstone of the two countries' diplomatic relationship which recognises only one Chinese government - and has formal ties with Beijing and not Taiwan.

But it also maintains a "robust unofficial" relationship with the island. That includes selling weapons for Taiwan to defend itself.

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