The USS Chancellorsville sailed through the disputed waters on Tuesday on what the US military has called a “routine” operation. Commander Reann Mommsen said the guided-missile cruiser travelled through the Strait to demonstrate “commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific”. This is the ninth-time a US vessel has sailed through the waters this year.
Commander Mommsen, spokesman for the US 7th fleet said: “Guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit November 12 in accordance with international law.
“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Commander Mommsen indicated the US would not be deterred by China and will continue to travel “anywhere international law allow”.
He added: “The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allow.”
The Taiwan Military confirmed it has “full grasp” of the US operation and “no abnormalities” took place during its voyage.
In a statement the military said it had “full grasp during the entire process of the neighbouring seas, the air and naval spaces, and other relevant developments, with no abnormalities during the period”.
The US warship USS Antietam was the last to sail through the waters last September.
The Taiwan Strait is a a 180-kilometre-wide strait separating the island of Taiwan from mainland China.
The strait forms party of the disputed South China Sea and connects to the East China Sea to the north.
Under international law, a large part of the South China Sea comes under Vietnamese sovereignty.
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Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu warned China could attack the democratic and self-ruled island if any threat to China’s ruling Communist Party – amid growing economic pressure from the ongoing trade war with the US.
Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said Mr Wu’s comments were “complete nonsense and absolute rubbish”.
Mr Xiaoguang said: “Recently, in order to seek benefit for the elections, they have been weaving various lies to intimidate, threaten and mislead the people of Taiwan.
“I think compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait must be highly vigilant and not easily misled.”