Taiwan says two US warships pass through Taiwan Strait

The USS Mustin

The USS Mustin

The recent spate of actions by China, including conducting military exercises targeting Taiwan, sending aircraft and warships around Taiwan, and suppressing Taiwan's global space are aimed at coercing Taiwan into accepting China's political terms, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said in a statement.

"Two U.S. Navy ships conducted a routine transit through the worldwide waters of the Taiwan Strait on July 7-8 (local time)", Captain Charlie Brown, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Fleet, told Reuters in a statement. The last U.S. Navy aircraft carrier to sail the area was in 2007.

Collin Koh, a specialist in regional naval affairs at Singapore's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said the warships' transit was likely a message from the USA that it continues to support Taiwan.

Two United States warships entered the Taiwan Strait on Saturday at a time of heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Both Taiwan and the USA confirmed the ships' passage over the weekend.

China has alarmed Taiwan by ramping up military exercises this year, including flying bombers and other military aircraft around the island and sending its carrier through the narrow Taiwan Strait separating it from Taiwan.

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The U.S. and China also have tensions over China's growing military presence on man-made islands in the South China Sea, a place near where U.S. Navy continues to carry out freedom of navigation passages.

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U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis discussed the delicate issue of Taiwan during his trip to China last month.

China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory to be conquered by force if necessary, has criticized recent USA moves to strengthen relations with the administration of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

Although the USA does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, it is its most powerful ally and top arms supplier.

Beijing suspects Tsai wants to push for formal independence, which would cross a red line for Communist Party leaders in China, although Tsai has said she wants to maintain the status quo and is committed to ensuring peace.

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