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US cruiser steams through Taiwan Strait, China protests

Transit by guided-missile cruiser marks 2nd by US warship in 2 weeks

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Photo taken from deck of USS Port Royal. (U.S. 7th Fleet photo)

Photo taken from deck of USS Port Royal. (U.S. 7th Fleet photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A U.S. Navy guided-missile cruiser transited through the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday (May 10), marking the second appearance by an American warship in two weeks and coming two days after China had conducted war games in the region.

The U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet on Tuesday announced that Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser the USS Port Royal (CG 73) had "conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit" that day "through international waters in accordance with international law." The press release pointed out that the warship had navigated through a "corridor in the Strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal State."

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."

The Port Royal's occurred on the heels of recent exercises conducted around Taiwan by Chinese aircraft carrier the Liaoning. On Monday (May 9), The People's Liberation Army's (PLA) Eastern Theater Command confirmed that the Liaoning aircraft carrier group had conducted live-fire drills in the waters and airspace off Taiwan's eastern and southwestern coasts from May 6-8.

On Wednesday (May 11), Chinese state-run mouthpiece the Global Times cited "analysts" as saying that the Port Royal's passage was meant to show support for "Taiwan independence secessionist forces" and claimed that such cooperation between "external forces and the secessionists is bound to fail."

PLA Eastern Theater Command spokesman Senior Colonel Shi Yi said in a press release issued Tuesday: "By frequently playing shows like this, stirring up troubles and making provocations, the US is sending wrong signals to "Taiwan independence" forces and is intentionally escalating tensions in the Taiwan Straits." Shi then vowed that Eastern Theater Command troops are at a high state of vigilance to "resolutely counter all threats and provocations and firmly safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity."

This marks the second time a U.S. Navy warship has passed through the Taiwan Strait in two weeks. On April 26, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer the USS Sampson (DDG 102) conducted a patrol through the strait. The Seventh Fleet also described this mission as a "routine Taiwan Strait transit."