TAIPEI (Reuters) - A U.S. Navy warship has transited the narrow and sensitive Taiwan Strait, the U.S. Navy and Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said on Monday, the second such operation in two weeks amid rising tensions between China and the United States.
The U.S. Navy said the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey conducted a “routine Taiwan Strait transit” on Sunday in accordance with international law.
“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” U.S. Seventh Fleet representative Reann Mommsen said.
Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said the destroyer had sailed in a southerly direction through the strait and was continuing to sail south.
The ship was on an “ordinary mission” and the situation was “normal”, the ministry added, without giving details.
Guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin sailed through the strait on Aug. 18, in what China’s military called an “extremely dangerous” move.
Both China and the United States have been stepping up their military activities in the region, both around Chinese-claimed Taiwan and in the disputed South China Sea.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen warned last week of the risk of accidental conflict from the rise in military activities.
China claims democratic Taiwan as its own territory, and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.
The United States is Taiwan’s main arms supplier and most important backer on the international stage.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Richard Pullin and Stephen Coates
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