Us Deploys Two Warships Through Taiwan Strait, First Since Pelosi Trip

It is the first time the United States has sent warships through the Taiwan Strait since tensions between the two countries flared up this month over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island.

The US 7th Fleet in Japan released a statement on Sunday saying that the guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam and USS Chancellorsville were “navigating through waters where high seas freedoms of navigation and overflight apply in conformity with international law.”

It noted that there has been “no hindrance from foreign military troops so far” during the “ongoing” journey.
“These vessels are passing through a section of the strait that is outside the jurisdiction of any of the coastal states. U.S. support for free and open trade in the Indo-Pacific is on display as the ships pass through the Taiwan Strait. The United States military ships, flies, and operates anywhere it may do so legally under international law “said it.

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During an interview with CNN’s Jim Sciutto on Sunday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that the two US Navy warships passing through the Taiwan Strait sent a “very clear” and “very consistent” message that “the United States military will sail, fly, and operate wherever international law permits us to do so.”
“This was planned a very long time ago,” Kirby said.

China’s Eastern Theater Command has declared that it is on high alert and “ready to resist any provocation” in response to the presence of the two ships in the region.
Beijing’s replies to those transits were harsh.

The frequent provocations and showing-off by the US fully demonstrate that the US is the destroyer of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the creator of security risks in the Taiwan Strait, according to Col. Shi Yi, spokesman for the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command, following the Benfold’s transit on July 19.
After Pelosi’s visit to the island earlier this month, Beijing increased military operations in the strait and in the skies above it.
The PLA announced four days of military exercises in six zones surrounding Taiwan on August 2, mere minutes after Pelosi landed on the island.
Ballistic missiles were launched into waters near Taiwan, multiple Chinese warships steamed across the Taiwan Strait, and scores of PLA airplanes crossed the median line separating mainland China and Taiwan, a boundary Beijing claims it does not recognize but has generally respected.

According to data collected by the Defense Ministry of Taiwan, PLA jets have been crossing the median line daily, typically in the double digits, even after the formal completion of the drills. Between five and twenty-one PLA aircraft breached the median line daily between August 8 (the last of four days of drills announced the night Pelosi landed in Taiwan) and August 22.
According to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry, Chinese warplanes crossed the median line only once in July, with an unknown number of jets, before Pelosi’s trip.

Also, Taiwan claims to have sighted anything from five to fourteen PLA warships in the waters around Taiwan.
This week’s PLA drills are only a continuation of a very busy period for Chinese military training.
On Friday, China’s Eastern Theater Command reported that Chinese forces had undertaken “joint combat-readiness security patrols and combat training operations in the oceans and skies” around Taiwan.
The U.S. ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns, told CNN last week that Beijing’s reaction to Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan has been “an overreaction.”
Burns, speaking from the U.S. Embassy, said, “We do not believe there should be a crisis in US-China ties over the visit — the peaceful visit — of the speaker of the House of Representatives to Taiwan.”
It is “up to the administration in Beijing to convince the rest of the world that it will act peacefully in the future,” the envoy said.

He remarked that there is global concern over China’s role as an agent of instability in the Taiwan Strait, adding that this is not in anyone’s best interest.

Last week, China’s ambassador to the US, Qin Gang, said that US transits only make things worse.
Qin told reporters in Washington, “I do call on American colleagues to display restraint, not to do anything to aggravate the tension.” “If there’s any move harming China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, China would respond.”