The US Navy has sent a destroyer and a replenishment oiler through the Taiwan Strait on January 24, in the third such move in four months.
US Navy ships previously made the transits in October and November 2018.
The ships involved in the Thursday’s operation were destroyer USS McCampbell and replenishment oiler USNS Walter S. Diehl.
USS McCampbel was the destroyer involved in a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) near the Peter the Great Bay in the Sea of Japan in December 2018. The FONOP challenged Russia’s territorial claims. A month later, McCampbell carried out a South China Sea FONOP sailing within 12 miles of the disputed Paracel Island chain which is claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan but controlled by China.
The Taiwan Strait transit is considered routine and in accordance with international law, US Pacific Fleet spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Tim Gorman told CNN.
The strait separates Taiwan and the Republic of China. Responding to previous US Navy passages, China’s foreign affairs ministry noted that the Taiwan issue “had a bearing on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” It was further said that the US interaction with Taiwan was the most important and sensitive issue in China-US ties.
During a recent tour of the Asia Pacific, US Navy Chief, Admiral John Richardson told media that the navy would also consider sailing an aircraft carrier through the strait noting that there was no limitation on what type of ship could pass through the waters. Speaking to reporters in Japan, the admiral noted that the strait was regarded by the US as another stretch of international waters.