TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — The U.S. Navy sailed two warships through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, the first such transit in public since U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi , visited Taiwan in early August, at a time when tensions have kept the waterway particularly busy.
The USS Antietam and USS Chancellorsville are conducting a routine transit, the US 7th Fleet said. The cruisers “transited a corridor in the Strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal state,” the statement said.
China held many military exercises in the strait to punish Taiwan after Pelosi visited the self-governing island against threats from Beijing.
China has sent many warships sailing in the Taiwan Strait and the waters around Taiwan since Pelosi’s visit, as well as sending fighter jets and firing long-range missiles. It sees the island as part of its national territory and opposes any visits from foreign governments for recognizing Taiwan as its own state.
China said it tracked the movement of the ships. “The troops of the (Eastern) Theater Command are on high alert and ready to thwart any provocation at any time,” said Col. Shi Yi, spokesman for the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, speaking on CNN on Sunday, said the transit sent a “very clear message, a very consistent message … that the United States Navy, the United States Army of the United States will sail, fly and operate wherever international law allows us to do so.
Kirby also noted that the transit was “very consistent with our ‘One China’ policy, very consistent with our desire to make sure that we can continue to work toward a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
The United States regularly sends its ships through the Taiwan Strait as part of what it calls freedom of navigation maneuvers.
The 100-mile-wide (160-kilometer-wide) strait divides Taiwan from China.