China vexed by US Navy ships sailing through Taiwan Strait

China vexed by US Navy ships sailing through Taiwan Strait

Two US Navy ships have sailed through the Taiwan Strait to demonstrate US commitment to freedom of navigation in the region, the press service of the US Navy Pacific Fleet said in a published statement.

The USS Stockdale, an Arleigh Burke guided missile destroyer, (inset) and a US Navy oiler passed through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018, in a move that is expected to anger China.

"The ships' transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific", McMarr said in a statement.

According to Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense, the American ships completed their "routine" passage late Wednesday night, after entering the Taiwan Strait from the northeastern direction early on Wednesday morning.

A USA official told the French news agency, Agence France-Presse, that Chinese ships were standing by and monitoring the American vessels but that both sides acted in a manner that was "safe and professional". Nevertheless, Taiwan's military noted that during the passage, it had full "ability to maintain the security of the seas and airspace to ensure regional peace and stability".

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China has been ramping up pressure to assert its sovereignty over the island, which it considers a breakaway province of the communist country.

The voyage on Wednesday will add to tensions with China, but is likely to be viewed in self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support from US President Donald Trump's government amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing.

The US Navy conducted a similar mission in the strait's global waters in July, the first in about a year.

China "expressed concern to the USA side" over the move, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang (耿爽) told a briefing in Beijing yesterday.

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