Two U.S. Navy warships passed through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday for the first time since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., made her controversial visit to Taiwan.
The Navy said cruisers Chancellorsville and Antietam participated in the operation. It usually takes eight to 12 hours to complete such operations, which will be monitored by China’s military.
U.S. warships, as well as allied nations like Britain and Canada, have routinely sailed through the strait in recent years, enraging the Chinese government, which views Taiwan as its own territory.
Pelosi’s trip to the island earlier this month upset Beijing as it perceived the visit as an attempt by the U.S. to get involved in its affairs with Taiwan. China then launched military drills near the island that have since been extended.
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“These [U.S.] ships transited through a corridor in the strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal state,” the U.S. Navy said.
The Navy said the operation shows the U.S. is committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific, and that the U.S. military flies, sails and operates where international law permits.
The Chinese military’s Eastern Theater Command revealed it was following the U.S. ships.
“Troops in the theater remain on high alert and are ready to thwart any provocation at any time,” the agency said in a statement.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said the ships were sailing in a southerly direction and that its forces were observing but that “the situation was as normal.”
Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn, who serves on the Senate Commerce and Armed Services committees, arrived in Taiwan on Thursday for a trip that marks the third visit by U.S. officials this month.
About a week after Pelosi’s trip, a group of five other U.S. lawmakers visited Taiwan, prompting China’s military to carry out more exercises near the island.
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The Biden administration has looked to stop tensions between the U.S. and China from leading to conflict, noting that congressional trips are routine.
The U.S. does not have official relations with Taiwan and the administration said it remains committed to the One China policy, recognizing Beijing as the government of China while still maintaining informal relations and defense ties with Taiwan.
Reuters contributed to this report.