This is the first time US warships have passed through the Taiwan Strait since China’s maneuver.
The US Navy announced on Sunday that two US warships had passed through the Taiwan Strait, the first since China’s unprecedented maneuvers near the island.
The passage “demonstrates America’s commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” according to a US Navy press release. On August 12, Washington announced its intention to strengthen its trade ties with Taiwan and establish new air and sea crossings across the strait in response to China’s “provocative” actions.
Kurt Campbell, the White House’s Asia-Pacific coordinator, said earlier in the day that Beijing had tried to use House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent controversial visit to Taiwan to raise the stakes regarding the island’s situation.
“Fly, Go or Run Anywhere”
Beijing used this pretext to “launch a campaign of pressure against Taiwan that could undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” launching multi-day air and sea exercises around the island.
Kurt Campbell announced at the time that US ships and aircraft would make new routes through the Taiwan Strait “in the coming weeks”. U.S. forces will “continue to fly, sail or operate wherever international law authorizes,” he continued, without specifying the nature of deployments in the strait or their timetable.
Taiwan lives under the constant threat of invasion from Beijing, which intends to one day retake the autonomous island, if necessary by force. Beijing has fought against any diplomatic move that might confer legitimacy on Taiwan and has reacted more aggressively to visits by Western officials and politicians.
The U.S. Seventh Fleet said the two Ticonderoga-class guided-missile ships USS Antietam and USS Chancellorsville conducted a “routine” transit “in seas where international standards of navigation and high freedom of flight apply.” He pointed out that the two ships were “located beyond the territory of any coastal state in the corridor of the Taiwan Strait” and added that the US military has the right to “operate where international law allows”. The Seventh Fleet is based in Japan and is an essential part of Washington’s naval presence in the Pacific.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said in a brief statement that two US ships had crossed the Taiwan Strait from north to south. “While traveling south through the Taiwan Strait, the military is monitoring our sea and airspace (…) movements, and the situation is normal,” said the same source.