The US Navy sends a warship through the Taiwan Strait for the second time in two weeks – days after a US destroyer sailed near disputed South China Sea islands amid mounting tensions between Washington and Beijing
- An American warship sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait, Taiwan confirmed Monday
- The ship was on a ‘regular mission’ and the situation was ‘normal’, the ministry added
- Comes days after a US warship sailed near the disputed Paracel Islands
A US Navy warship has sailed through the narrow and sensitive Taiwan Strait for the second time in two weeks.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense confirmed the operation on Monday amid mounting tensions between China and the United States.
The ministry said a US destroyer, who did not name it, had sailed south through the strait and continued to sail south.
The ship was on a ‘regular mission’ and the situation was ‘normal’, the ministry added, without giving details.
A US Navy warship has sailed through the narrow and sensitive Taiwan Strait for the second time in two weeks. Above is a file image of an MH-60 Sea Hawk crossing the Taiwan Strait in May of this year
The US Navy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The American guided missile destroyer USS Mustin sailed through the strait on August 18, in what the Chinese military called an “extremely dangerous” movement.
Both China and the United States have stepped up their military activities in the region, both around China-claimed Taiwan and in the controversial South China Sea.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen last week warned of the risk of accidental conflict from the increase in military activity.
China democratically claims Taiwan as its own territory and has never relinquished the use of force to take the island under its control.
The United States is Taiwan’s main arms supplier and the main financier on the international scene.
The incident comes days after a US warship sailed near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, disputing Beijing’s claims on the resource-rich waterway and prompting a warning from the Chinese military.
The US Navy’s Pacific Fleet said in a statement that the USS Mustin, a guided missile destroyer, “ sailed near the Paracel Islands on Thursday to ensure that critical shipping lanes in the area remain clear and open. ”
The Chinese military accused the US ship on Friday of entering “China’s territorial waters” off the islands “without permission.”
The region near the disputed Paracel Islands has seen heightened tensions recently, with both the US and China conducting military operations
Chinese troops followed the warship and then warned it to leave, military spokesman Li Huamin said.
In recent years, China has aggressively pursued its territorial claims in the South China Sea by building small schools and reefs into military bases with runways and port facilities.
Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Taiwan also have competing claims in the South China Sea, expelling international trade worth trillions of dollars a year.
Tensions have risen this week in the area near the Paracel Islands – called Xisha by Beijing – where the Chinese military has conducted exercises.
Beijing on Tuesday accused Washington of flying a U-2 spy plane into a no-fly zone to disrupt drills, including ballistic missile launches.
The Pentagon then accused China of destabilizing the region and using the military for “ illegal maritime claims ” in a statement criticizing the exercises and the use of ballistic missiles in the exercises.
The Chinese military said on Friday that the US had “ repeatedly caused trouble in the South China Sea ” and urged “ to stop such provocative actions immediately. ”