The US Navy has sent two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers through the Taiwan Strait in what is the first such move since July 2017.
The passage of USS Mustin and USS Benfold was first reported by Taiwanese media and later confirmed by the Taiwan defense ministry and US Navy officials.
The Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had followed the ships as they passed through the strait adding that the US “should avoid actions that endanger peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”
Some analysts, including Taiwan’s former defense minister Andrew Yang, noted that there could have been more coordination between the US and Thailand during the transit than the two sides want to reveal. The assumption is based on the fact that the move was first announced by Taiwan with the aim of indicating close ties with the US.
According to the USNI News, the operation was described as a “routine transit” by US Pacific Fleet spokesman Capt. Charlie Brown. “US Navy ships transit between the South China Sea and East China Sea via the Taiwan Strait and have done so for many years,” Brown was quoted as saying.
The US move comes amid an expanding trade dispute between the US and China which saw the two countries impose some $70 billion in tariffs on each other’s goods on Friday.