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US, Canadian warships sail through Taiwan Strait, second in a year

US, Canadian warships sail through Taiwan Strait, second in a year

FILE PHOTO: The USS Higgins is docked in the northern Israeli city of Haifa September 6, 2009. The destroyer is one of 18 American ships deployed globally with Aegis interceptor systems capable of blowing up ballistic missiles above the atmosphere. REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo

A United States Navy warship and a Canadian frigate carried out a routine transit through the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday (Sep 20), the US and Canadian militaries said, an operation which comes amid heightened military tensions between Beijing and Taipei.

China condemned the mission, saying its forces "warned" the ships.

In recent years, US warships, and on occasion those from allied nations such as Britain and Canada, have routinely sailed through the strait, drawing the ire of China, which claims Taiwan over the objections of the island's democratically elected government.

In a statement, the US Navy said its Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Higgins and the Royal Canadian Navy's Halifax-class frigate Vancouver conducted the transit through a corridor in the strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal state.

"Cooperation like this represents the centerpiece of our approach to a secure and prosperous region," the Navy statement added.

Canada's Defence Minister Anita Anand said that her country, as a Pacific nation, was deeply committed to upholding global stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

"Today's routine Taiwan Strait transit demonstrates our commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific," she said in a statement.

The Eastern Theatre Command of China's People's Liberation Army said its forces monitored the ships and "warned them".

"Theatre forces are always on high alert, resolutely counter all threats and provocations, and resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity," it said in a statement, using the normal wording for its response to such missions.

Taiwan's defense ministry said the ships sailed in northerly direction through the waterway and that its forces observed the mission but that "the situation was as normal".

It was the second transit of the strait in a month by a US Navy ship, and the second joint transit by the United States and Canada in less than a year, the last one being in October 2021.

A visit to Taiwan by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi in early August enraged China, which regards the island as its territory.

China subsequently launched military drills near the island, which have continued though on a much reduced scale.

The narrow Taiwan Strait has been a frequent source of military tension since the defeated Republic of China government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war with the communists, who established the People's Republic of China. 

Source: Reuters/ic/rc
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