7th Fleet ships transit Taiwan Strait amid security, trade tensions with China

7th Fleet ships transit Taiwan Strait amid security, trade tensions with China

7th Fleet ships transit Taiwan Strait amid security, trade tensions with China

"The ships' transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific", Commander Nate Christensen, deputy spokesman for U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in a statement.

"The ships' transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the USA commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific", Army Col. Robert Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters Monday.

Taiwan's premier William Lai said during a parliamentary session Tuesday that Taiwan respected the United States right of passage in worldwide waters and recognised "the various efforts of the USA in maintaining peace in the Asia-Pacific Region".

"Cruising through the strait is not new, but it is a strong signal that the US will be on Taiwan's side in case of a crisis between Taipei and Beijing", said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, who teaches U.S.

China has become increasingly aggressive in the Taiwan Strait towards Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province and not a separate country.

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"The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere worldwide law allows", he added.

A guided-missile destroyer and guided-missile cruiser both made the politically sensitive trip, the first such voyage by USA vessels since July.

Beijing has stepped up the frequency and scale of military drills around Taiwan since 2016, when the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), a pro-independence party, won the election in Taiwan. The Chinese military has sailed its aircraft carrier and accompanying escort ships through the Taiwan Strait and conducted "encirclement" exercises involving fighters, bombers and other military assets throughout the year.

China, concerned that USA military actions around Taiwan will embolden pro-independence factions on the self-ruled island, has bolstered its military presence in the area this past year. "The Taiwan issue concerns China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and is the most important and most sensitive issue in U.S". Despite this, Washington has kept informal relations with the island nation after severing diplomatic ties with it in 1979.

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