A pair of USA warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Monday, a welcome show of support for America's friends in Taiwan and the right to open navigation in worldwide waters.
The USS Antietam, a guided missile cruiser, and the USS Curtis Wilbur, a guided missile destroyer, traveled through the strait Monday, sailing from south to north, the US Navy said, confirming earlier reports from Taiwan's Defense Ministry. Chinese ships have used force and coercion to prevent access to islands in the region claimed by smaller nations, USA officials have repeatedly said. Nate Christensen, deputy spokesman for the U.S.
This year, China increased military and diplomatic pressure, conducting air and sea military exercises around the island and persuading three of the few governments still supporting Taiwan to drop their backing.
Two U.S. defense officials told CNN that several Chinese warships followed the Yokosuka-based 7th Fleet ships at a safe distance.
Taiwan's Defense Ministry first confirmed the transit in a statement.
Another irritant in the U.S.
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.
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.
A pair of U.S. naval vessels sailed through Taiwan Strait in a move that may further exacerbate the already strained relations between Beijing and Washington, with Taiwan's defense ministry claiming that it was in full control of the situation.
While the USA and China cooperate in denuclearizing North Korea, tensions have increased as both the US and China have engaged in a trade war. China maintains Taiwan is a breakaway province and not an independent nation.