(Reuters) – A U.S. Navy warship and a Canadian frigate carried out a routine transit through the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday, the U.S. 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, U.S. 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 U.S. 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 centrepiece 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 defence ministry said the ships sailed north 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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.
Reporting by Idrees Ali; additional reporting by Michael Martina, Ben Blanchard and Steve Scherer; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Shri Navaratnam and Raju Gopalakrishnan