US sails warships through Taiwan Strait for first time since Pelosi visit

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Us Sails Warships Through Taiwan Strait For First Time Since Pelosi Visit Us Sails Warships Through Taiwan Strait For First Time Since Pelosi Visit
The guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville transits the Philippine Sea in 2016, © AP/Press Association Images
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By Associated Press Reporters

The US Navy sailed two warships through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, in the first such transit publicised since US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan earlier in August, at a time when tensions have kept the waterway particularly busy.

The USS Antietam and USS Chancellorsville were making a routine transit, the US 7th Fleet said.

The cruisers “transited through a corridor in the Strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal State”, the statement said.


 

China carried out many military exercises in the strait as it sought to punish Taiwan after Ms Pelosi visited the self-ruled island despite Beijing’s threats.

China has sent many warships into the Taiwan Strait and waters surrounding Taiwan since her visit, as well as sending warplanes and firing long-range missiles.

It views the island as part of its national territory and opposes any visits by foreign governments as recognising Taiwan as its own state.

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China said it tracked the movement of the ships.


Guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam was sailing through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday (Mass Communication Specialist Seaman David Flewellyn/US Navy/AP)

“Troops of the (Eastern) Theatre Command are on high alert and ready to foil any provocation at any time,” said senior Colonel Shi Yi, of the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, speaking on CNN on Sunday, said the transit sent a “very clear message, very consistent message … that the United States navy, the United States military will sail, fly and operate wherever international law permits us to do so”.

Mr Kirby also noted that the transit was “very consistent with our ‘One China’ policy, very consistent with our desire to make sure that we can continue to work towards a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

The US regularly sends its ships through the Taiwan Strait as part of what it calls freedom of navigation manoeuvres.

The 100 mile-wide (160km-wide) strait divides Taiwan from China.

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