TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer patrolled through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday (July 28), marking the seventh passage of an American naval vessel through the strait since President Joe Biden took office.
The U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet on Wednesday announced that the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65) had "conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit " that day "in accordance with international law." The Seventh Fleet emphasized that the warship's passage "demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific."
The statement added that "The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows." Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) at 7:25 a.m. Thursday morning (July 29) confirmed the destroyer had sailed through the strait from south to north.
The MND stated that during the ship's northward journey through the strait, the military used joint intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance to monitor movements at sea and in the air around Taiwan and described the situation as normal. Previous U.S. Navy transits this year were made by the USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) on Feb. 4 and April 7; the USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-54) on Feb. 24, May 14, and June 22; and the USS John Finn (DDG 113) on March 10.
USNI News reported that the Benfold had carried out a freedom of navigation mission near the Paracel Islands earlier this month. It pointed out that the US Navy had on July 12 refuted a claim by China that its naval forces had "chased Benfold out of the South China Sea."
In a press release issued that day, the U.S. 7th Fleet stated that “The PLA’s [People's Liberation Army's] statement is the latest in a long string of PRC actions to misrepresent lawful U.S. maritime operations and assert its excessive and illegitimate maritime claims at the expense of its Southeast Asian neighbors in the South China Sea." It added that China's behavior “stands in contrast to the United States’ adherence to international law and our vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region. All nations, large and small, should be secure in their sovereignty, free from coercion, and able to pursue economic growth consistent with accepted international rules and norms.”