US warships sail through Taiwan Strait

Sailors aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser Antietam receive a fuel line during a replenishment-at-sea with the oiler Tippecanoe on Oct. 10 2018 in the East China Sea

The voyage risks further heightening tensions with China, but will likely be viewed in self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support by President Donald Trump's government, amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing.

The Navy sailed two Japan-based ships through the Taiwan Strait on Monday amid ongoing tensions over freedom of navigation in the western Pacific and political strains over trade with China.

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

The pair of US Navy warships conducted "a routine Taiwan Strait transit in accordance with global law", Pacific Fleet spokesperson Lt. j.g.

Taiwan's foreign ministry declined comment.

Tsai said earlier this month she will maintain the status quo with Beijing, but also vowed to boost Taiwan's national security and said her government would not submit to Chinese suppression.

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

Beijing recently conducted a series of military manoeuvres, including a live fire exercise in the Taiwan Strait in April, declaring its willingness to confront Taiwan's "independence forces". That incident followed a string of US Air Force bomber flights through the disputed East and South China Seas, flights Beijing characterised as "provocative".

MND issued a statement in the evening saying two USA military vessels are going through Taiwan Strait, which is worldwide waters, as a routine operation, but gave no further details about the passage.

While a US Pacific Fleet representative claimed that the ship's journey "demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific", Taiwanese officials claimed that the island's defense ministry was in full control of the situation and "has the ability to maintain the security of the seas".

China, concerned that USA 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 transit was the first since July 2017.

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