KEY POINTS

  • The U.S. Navy called it was routine Taiwan Strait transit 
  • China has always protested such transits calling them a threat
  • The U.S. has conducted 11 such transits through the Strait this year

A U.S. warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait Tuesday as war threats loomed in the region. Though the U.S. Navy termed it a "routine activity," the transit of USS Milius comes as China ramps up pressure on Taiwan with repeated air incursions. 

A statement by the U.S. Navy said the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer conducted a "routine Taiwan Strait transit through international waters in accordance with international law."

"The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows,” it added.

Though Beijing has not responded to the transit yet, China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) has always condemned such transits, calling them a threat to peace and stability in the region, reported Reuters.

In September, a U.S. destroyer sailed through the Taiwan Strait, angering Beijing. The PLA had then reacted by holding a military drill targeting Taiwan near the Strait. The next month, the U.S. and Canada jointly sent a warship through the region. So far this year, 11 warships, including USS Milius, have transited through the region. 

Though such transits are frequent, the current one comes days after President Joe Biden and Xi Jinping held a video summit where China warned the U.S. against encouraging Taiwanese independence. 

Meanwhile, China's aggressive acts continue as Japan claimed a Chinese naval ship sailed in its waters off its southwestern prefecture of Kagoshima earlier this week, reported South China Morning Post. 

According to the Japanese ministry, the Chinese survey ship was spotted sailing off Kagoshima last Wednesday and Thursday in the so-called contiguous zone outside Japan’s territorial waters. The ship was spotted by a Maritime Self-Defence Force patrol plane Wednesday morning, the ministry added.

Though the Japanese government conveyed concern about the incursion to China through diplomatic channels, the report said no order based on the Self-Defence Forces Law allowing the defensive use of weapons on the seas was issued. 

Not just Japan, even the Philippines lashed out against the Chinese coast guard for firing at its supply vessels in the South China Sea last week. Manila has asked China to "back off" after its supply ships were fired at with water cannons. Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin said the incident happened within the country’s exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.

However, the Philippines later redeployed supply ships, which successfully reached their destination without any incident. 

The USS John S. McCain (R), pictured here in 2017, sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Thursday Representation. File image of a US warship sailing through the Taiwan Strait. Photo: AFP / Roslan RAHMAN