The US military said it sent two Navy warships through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday as the Pentagon increases the frequency of movement through the strategic waterway despite opposition from China, Reuters reports.
“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, said in a statement as cited by Reuters.
The two destroyers were identified as the William P. Lawrence and Stethem, Reuters report says.
Doss said there were no unsafe or unprofessional interactions with other countries’ vessels during the transit.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said the US ships had sailed north through the strait, Reuters reports.
“U.S. ships freely passing through the Taiwan Strait is part of the mission of carrying out the Indo-Pacific strategy,” it said in a statement.
Taiwan’s armed forces monitored the transit and nothing out of the ordinary happened during it, the ministry said as cited by Reuters.
There was no immediate comment from China.
In March the US reportedly sent the naval destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur and the Coast Guard cutter Bertholf through the Taiwan Strait to demonstrate the US’ commitment to freedom of navigation operations in the region.
The US Navy continues to conduct freedom of navigation operations in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, which Chinese authorities consider a provocation.Mainland China has repeatedly called on the US to steer clear of the 110-mile-wide strait over concerns of military support being given to Taiwan.
Although the island has been a self-governing nation since 1949, China has continually looked upon Taiwan as a wayward province needing to be brought back into the fold.
The Taiwan Strait divides Taiwan from mainland China. Beijing considers Taiwan to be part of a united China. Relations between the two sides were cut in 1949 after the remnants of Chiang Kai-shek’s forces fled to the island following their defeat on the mainland. Ties were partially restored in the 1980s.