Navy Sails 2 Ships Through Taiwan Strait in Defiance of China

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A guided-missile destroyer and guided-missile cruiser both made the politically sensitive trip, the first such voyage by U.S. vessels since July.

Last month, after the USA authorization of a US$330 million arms sale to Taiwan, China's foreign ministry spokesman said the move "undermines China's sovereignty and security interests", adding that Beijing expressed its "strong dissatisfaction" and "resolute opposition".

The United States sent two warships through the Taiwan Strait, the U.S. Navy and Taiwan's defense ministry said on Monday, in a move that could anger Beijing amid heightening U.S. tensions with China.

The USS Curtis Wilbur and USS Antietam conducted a routine transit to demonstrate US commitment "to a free and open Indo-Pacific", Colonel Rob Manning told reporters at a press briefing.

"USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) and USS Antietam (CG 54) conducted a routine Taiwan Strait Transit on October 22, in accordance with global law", Cmdr.

There are also tensions between the two countries over China's growing military presence on man-made islands in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

The ships' passage through the strait demonstrates "the United States commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific", Cmdr. The Chinese military has sailed its aircraft carrier and accompanying escort ships through the Taiwan Strait and conducted "encirclement" exercises involving fighters, bombers and other military assets throughout the year. China maintains Taiwan is a breakaway province and not an independent nation.

The operation is said to ensure the U.S.'s free passage through the strategic waterway, according to a Reuters report on Saturday.

China considers Taiwan a province of the mainland and officials have stated over the years that the democratic island's continued self-rule can not continue indefinitely.

Chinese warships shadowed the US Navy ships through the Taiwan Strait Monday, but the Chinese ships remained at a safe distance.

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