US warships sail through Taiwan Strait, China tracks them

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Two U.S. Navy warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait for the first time since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to island sparked tensions between Washington and Beijing.

“Guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam and USS Chancellorsville are conducting a routine Taiwan Strait transit August 28 (local time) through waters where high seas freedoms of navigation and overflight apply in accordance with international law,” the U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement. “The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

The U.S. regularly sends its ships through the Taiwan Strait as part of what it calls freedom of navigation maneuvers.

The Taiwan trip in early August by Pelosi, the highest-ranking elected U.S. official to visit in more than 25 years, was seen as a provocation by Beijing, which views Taiwan as part of its territory and opposes visits by foreign governments.  China has since intensified displays of military powers around Taiwan.

The Chinese military said it “conducted security tracking and monitoring of the U.S. warships’ passage” on Sunday and that its troops “always stay on high alert and get ready to thwart any provocation.”