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Ministry confirms U.S. warships' Strait activity

Ministry confirms U.S. warships' Strait activity

Two US Navy vessels sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Monday, the island's defence ministry said.

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

The U.S. Navy conducted a similar "freedom of navigation" exercise through the expansive waterway that separate China and Taiwan back in July.

"The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere global law allows", he said.

The US Navy put on a show of force on China's doorstep Monday, sending two warships through the tense Taiwan Strait. That incident followed a string of US Air Force bomber flights through the disputed East and South China Seas, flights Beijing characterised as "provocative".

Chinese security experts blasted the move by saying it suggests Washington would stand by Taiwan in case of a crisis with China.

US Pacific Fleet spokesman Commander Nate Christensen said that the guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur and the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam took part in the passage operation "in accordance with worldwide law".

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"The DOD will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever worldwide law permits", said Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Rob Manning.

Taiwan's military is fully aware of the passage of the United States vessels, and is capable of defending its maritime territory and airspace security, the statement said. The U.S. Navy has conducted such transits through the Taiwan Strait for years but have not publicized the transits since 2007.

While the US and China cooperate in denuclearizing North Korea, tensions have increased as both the USA and China have engaged in a trade war.

Taiwan's relations with China have deteriorated since the island's President Tsai Ing-wen from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party swept to power in 2016.

Military experts say the balance of power between Taiwan and China has shifted decisively in China's favour in recent years, and China could easily overwhelm the island unless USA forces came quickly to Taiwan's aid.

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.

Hua said Beijing urged Washington to "scrupulously abide by the one-China principle" and "carefully handle the Taiwan-related issues in an appropriate manner".

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