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US Warships Sail Through Taiwan Strait Amid Trade War With China

24 October 2018

The move "demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific", spokesman for the US Pacific Fleet Commander Nate Christensen was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying.

The U.S. Navy conducted a similar mission in the strait's worldwide waters in July, which had been the first such voyage in about a year.

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.

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 worldwide law.

Beijing recently conducted a series of military manoeuvers, including a live fire exercise in the Taiwan Strait in April, declaring its willingness to confront Taiwan's "independence forces".

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Multiple Chinese warships shadowed the two USA vessels during the transit, following at a safe distance, defense officials told CNN. "The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere worldwide law allows", he stressed.

The Pentagon says Washington has sold Taiwan more than $15bn in weaponry since 2010.

Taiwan's Defense Ministry first confirmed the transit in a statement.

Beijing "expressed its concern to the United States side" as "the Taiwan issue concerns China's sovereignty and territorial integrity", Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing. China has also constructed artificial islands atop submerged reefs in the South China Sea and placed weapons and aircraft on them. The U.S. acknowledges China's stance but provides Taiwan with defense equipment and opposes reunification by force. Despite this, Washington has kept informal relations with the island nation after severing diplomatic ties with it in 1979. -China relationship, which also include a bitter trade war, US sanctions, and China's increasingly muscular military posture in the South China Sea.

US Warships Sail Through Taiwan Strait Amid Trade War With China