2 US warships pass through Taiwan Strait as ‘freedom of navigation’ feud with China escalates
24 October, 2018, 01:03
"China monitored the entire progress of the US warships passing through the Taiwan Strait, and has already expressed serious concern to the United States about this", stated Chinese Foreign Minister Hua Chunying.
This U.S. Navy photo obtained June 24 shows the guided-missile cruiser U.S.S. Antietam pulling alongside the Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Ronald Reagan during a fueling at sea on June 21 in the Philippine Sea.
Two US warships made a "routine passage" through the Taiwan Strait on Monday, in a move that is sure to ruffle feathers in Beijing as its relations with Washington continue to deteriorate.
Reuters was first to report US consideration of the sensitive operation on October 20.
Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) confirmed Monday evening that two US warships are moving northward from Eluanbi through Taiwan Strait on October 22. "The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere global law allows".
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Premier William Lai (賴清德) yesterday said Taiwan respects the US' right to exercise freedom of navigation in worldwide seas, after a reporter asked at a Legislative Yuan news conference whether the USA gave prior notification to Taiwan of the activity.
In July, the Navy sent the 7th Fleet destroyers USS Mustin and USS Benfold into the straits for what Pacific Fleet officials described as a "routine transit".
China views Taiwan as a wayward province and has been ramping up pressure to assert its sovereignty over the island. "Taiwan might talk up its asymmetric warfare capabilities, but without the US, Taiwan would be dead". The U.S. Navy has conducted such transits through the Taiwan Strait for years but have not publicized the transits since 2007.
Mr Mattis delivered that message to China's Defence Minister Wei Fenghe personally on October18, on the sidelines of an Asian security forum.
Monday's exercise took place amid China's increasing pressure on Taiwan in recent months.
Taiwan is only one of a growing number of flashpoints in the U.S. The U.S. has also accused China of engaging in cyberattacks against the U.S. government and businesses.
Beijing has stepped up the frequency and scale of military drills around Taiwan since 2016, when the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), a pro-independence party, won the election in Taiwan.
Beijing, which has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control, responded to the July passage with a warning to the United States to avoid jeopardising "peace and stability" in the strategic waterway. The U.S. continues to sell military weapons to the island nation even though it does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The U.S. acknowledges China's stance but provides Taiwan with defense equipment and opposes reunification by force.
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