Two U.S. warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Monday, a show of military support for the self-ruled island of Taiwan by the Trump administration that is sure to worsen already tense relations between Washington and Beijing.
The Antietam, a guided missile cruiser, and the Curtis Wilbur, a guided missile destroyer, sailed from the south to the north through the strait and were shadowed by multiple Chinese navy vessels at a safe distance, according to a U.S. official.
The 110-mile-wide waterway separating Taiwan from the mainland is an international passage, but it is a potential flashpoint if China ever sought to use force to take control of Taiwan, which Beijing considers a breakaway province.
“The ships’ transit though the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Lt. Rachel McMarr, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet. “The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”
Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters that before the passage through the strait, the U.S. “maintained coordination and contact with the appropriate nations, authorities and parties” and that it was “certainly not the intention to raise tensions or any kind of escalation” across the Taiwan Strait.