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US confirms that Taiwan Strait is 'international waterway'

Contradicts claim it is part of China's so-called 'exclusive economic zone'

The USS Sampson conducts a routine Taiwan Strait transit in April.  (AP photo)

The USS Sampson conducts a routine Taiwan Strait transit in April.  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As China continues to push forward its agenda and claim dominion over the Taiwan Strait, the United States has confirmed that it views the waters as "international" and clear for freedom of navigation and overflight.

China's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) has recently been claiming that international law does not apply to the strait because it belongs to China. Furthermore, "There is no such thing as international waters in international maritime law."

He made the statement despite China being a signatory to the International Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Also, in 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague categorically threw out China's claim that the Taiwan Strait and much of the South China Sea is part of its "exclusive economic zone."

In response, according to a Bloomberg article on Sunday (June 19) citing "people familiar with the matter," the Biden administration will continue to firmly reject such a notion.

State Department Spokesman Ned Price was quoted as saying: “The Taiwan Strait is an international waterway ... guaranteed under international law ... The United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, and that includes transiting through the Taiwan Strait.”

Though the U.S. is not a signatory to UNCLOS, it does back its validity by referring to an international "rules-based order."

The Taiwan Strait is one of the world's most important shipping lanes. Bloomberg added that U.S. warships have transited the Taiwan Strait about once a month since 2020, with "at least five transits this year."