US warships pass through Taiwan Strait for third time this year

US Navy destroyer, Coast Guard cutter pass through Taiwan Strait to ensure 'free and open Indo-Pacific'

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US destroyer Curtis Wilbur. (Image from facebook.com/DDG54)

US destroyer Curtis Wilbur. (Image from facebook.com/DDG54)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Despite complaints from Beijing, two U.S. naval warships passed through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday (March 24), continuing pattern of increased activity in the strategic waterway.

The two U.S. naval vessels which passed through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday included the USS Curtis Wilbur destroyer (DDG-54) and the USCGC Bertholf cutter (WMSL-750), reported Reuters.

According to a military statement cited by the report, "The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific." The statement added, "The U.S. will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows."

This marks the third time US naval vessels have passed through the Taiwan Strait this year and the sixth time in nine months. The U.S. said that despite China's opposition, it will increase the frequency of the passage through strategic waters.

The Reuters' report suggested that the voyage could intensify the confrontation between the United States and China, but may be seen by Taiwan as a friendly gesture of support from the U.S. at a time of growing tensions across the strait.

The first passage of U.S. warships in the Taiwan Strait this year took place on Jan. 24 when the guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG-85) and the USNS Walter S. Diehl (T-AO-193) "conducted a routine Taiwan Strait Transit" that was "in accordance with international law." The second passage took place on Feb. 25, when U.S. Naval vessels USS Stethem (DDG-63), a destroyer, and the USNS Cesar Chavez (T-AKE-14), an oiler, transited the strategic body of water.


Coast Guard Bertholf cutter. (Image from facebook.com/uscgcbertholf)