The U.S. Navy sent two guided-missile destroyers through the Taiwan Strait this week as a show of force against China, which has been flexing its military muscle against Taiwan recently.
On Sunday, the destroyers USS Mustin and USS Benfold made their way through the 100-mile-wide strait that separates mainland China from Taiwan on Sunday, according to Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Logan.
“U.S. Navy ships will sometimes transit between the South China Sea and the East China Sea via the Taiwan Strait and have done so for many years,” Logan said.
— Press TV (@PressTV) July 9, 2018
The transit takes place as the U.S.-led Rimpac is underway.
The biennial international military exercise involves forces from 25 nations.
“The exercises will see activities by 45 surface ships and submarines, 17 national land forces, more than 200 aircraft, and 25,000 military personnel,” according to the Beacon. “Forces from Israel, Vietnam and Sri Lanka are taking part in Rimpac for the first time.”
The purpose of the exercise is to ensure the safety of the major sea lanes.
“Rimpac is not only the world’s largest international maritime exercise, it also shows that like-minded nations who value a free and open Indo-Pacific want this opportunity to improve our cooperation with each other,” said Adm. John C. Aquilino, commander of Navy’s Pacific Fleet.
In May, the Pentagon rescinded an invitation for China to participate in the exercise, citing the Asian nation’s aggressive moves in the South China Sea.
China had participated in the previous three Rimpacs.
DOD officials told The Wall Street Journal at the time that the decision is “an initial response” to China’s militarization of the islands in the South China Sea, which are positioned near sea lanes used to transit more than $5 trillion in goods annually.
“We have strong evidence that China has deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile systems, and electronic jammers to contested features in the Spratly Islands region of the South China Sea,” said Logan. “China’s landing of a bomber aircraft at Woody Island has also raised tensions.”
— CSIS (@CSIS) August 13, 2016
In May, Chinese air force H-6 bombers, surveillance aircraft, and Su-35 fighter jets circled Taiwan in exercises, according to the Beacon.
Taiwan, which is known as the Republic of China, formed in 1949 after forces under communist leader Mao Zedong gained control of the mainland following a civil war.
China does not recognize the independence of Taiwan, considering it a breakaway province.
The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act requires the U.S. to supply military arms to the island and defend it in the event of a military attack by China.
The Associated Press reported that the Chinese state-run newspaper — the Global Times — accused the U.S. of engaging in a “psychological game” by sending destroyers through the Taiwan Strait this week.
“We have expressed our concerns to the U.S. side on this,” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying. “It must be pointed out that the Taiwan question bears on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and it is the most important and sensitive issue in China-U.S. relations.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.