The USS Antietam and USS Chancellorsville entered the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, marking the first U.S. naval transit of the waterway since U.S.-China tensions flared up over House Speaker Nancy Pelosis’s visit to the island this month.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, told CNN that the two ships sent a clear message that the U.S. military would operate anywhere international law allows.
The Taiwan Strait is a 110-mile-long (180-kilometer) stretch of water separating Taiwan, the self-governing island, from Chinas mainland. The U.S. Navy says much of the strait is international waters, but Beijing claims sovereignty over Taiwan.
Beijing has ramped up military maneuvers on the strait and the skies above since Pelosi visited Taiwan earlier this month. Chinese military planes have continued to violate the Median Line every day since the end of the military exercises.
The PLA conducted joint security patrols and military training exercises around Taiwan this week, part of what is typically a busy Chinese training season. A US senator visited Taiwan this week and reaffirmed her support for Taiwan.
Nicholas Burns, U.S. ambassador to China, told CNN last week that Beijing’s reaction to Pelosis trip to Taiwan was an “overreaction” and that Beijing needs to assure the world that it will behave peacefully going forward.
U.S. officials said Washington will continue to operate in the region as normal, including in the Taiwan Strait.
The Chinese ambassador to Washington said last week that US transits would only increase tensions.
For more coverage on this story, check the following additional news sources:
- U.S. warships transit Taiwan Strait, first since Pelosi visit Reuters
- US sends two warships through Taiwan Strait, in first transit since Pelosi trip CNN
- Navy deploys warships through Taiwan Strait for first time since Pelosi visit NBC News
- US warships sail through Taiwan Strait for first time since Pelosi’s controversial visit Fox News
- US sails warships through Taiwan Strait for first time since Pelosi visit NPR