US warships cross the Taiwan Strait for the first time since Pelosi’s visit

WASHINGTON, Aug 27 (Reuters) – Two U.S. Navy warships sailed through international waters in the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, the first such action since U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan and angered China, which considers the island its territory.

The US Navy, confirming the Reuters report, said the cruisers Chancellorsville and Antideme were continuing to operate. Such operations usually take eight to 12 hours and are closely monitored by China’s military. read more

In recent years, US warships, and sometimes warships from allies such as Britain and Canada, have sailed through the strait, drawing China’s ire over objections from Taiwan’s democratically elected government.

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Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in early August angered China, which saw it as a US attempt to interfere in its internal affairs. Subsequently, China started military exercises near the island. read more

“These (US) ships passed through a corridor in the strait beyond the territorial sea of ​​any coastal state,” the US Navy said.

The move demonstrates America’s commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and the US military flies, travels and operates anywhere international law allows, the Navy said.

John Kirby, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, echoed that position on CNN, saying the ships’ route was “very consistent” with the US “one-China” policy and seeks a “free and open Indo-Pacific”.

Kirby added that the move was planned a long time ago.

The Chinese military’s Eastern Theater Command said it was following the ships and warning them.

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“Troops in theater are on high alert and ready to counter any provocation at any time,” it added in a statement.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said the vessels were traveling south and that its forces were monitoring them but that the “situation remained normal”.

The narrow Taiwan Strait has caused frequent military tensions since the defeated government of the Republic of China fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war with the Communists who founded the People’s Republic of China.

Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was followed by a group of five other US lawmakers a week after China’s military retaliated by conducting more exercises near the island.

Senator Marsha Blackburn, a US lawmaker on the Senate Commerce and Armed Services committees, arrived in Taiwan on Thursday, the third visit by a US official this month, defying pressure from China to freeze the trips. read more

US President Joe Biden’s administration has sought to prevent tensions between Washington and Beijing from escalating into conflict, reiterating that congressional visits are routine.

The United States does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but is bound by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.

China has never ruled out using force to bring Taiwan under its control.

Taiwan’s People’s Republic of China has never ruled the island and therefore has no claim to it, and says only Taiwan’s 23 million people can decide their future.

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Statement by Idris Ali; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Taipei, Kevin Yao in Beijing and Jonathan Lande in Washington; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Lisa Schumacher

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