The United States sent two warships through the Taiwan Strait, the U.S. Navy and Taiwan’s defense ministry said on Monday, in a move that could anger Beijing amid heightening U.S. tensions with China.
The ministry said it was in full control of the situation during the U.S. warships’ journey through the Taiwan Strait, the self-ruled island’s defense ministry said in a statement.
“The Ministry of National Defense stressed that the army was in full control when the U.S. warships passed through the seas around Taiwan and has the ability to maintain the security of the seas and the airspace to ensure regional peace and stability,” it said.
The U.S. navy conducted a similar mission in July and any repeat would be regarded in Taiwan as a show of support by President Donald Trump’s government though it risks irking China, which views Taiwan as a wayward province Beijing has been ramping up pressure to assert its sovereignty over the island.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry declined comment.
Last week, Reuters reported that the United States was considering a new operation to send warships through, aimed at ensuring free passage through the strategic waterway.
Taiwan’s relations with China have deteriorated since the island’s President Tsai Ing-wen from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party swept to power in 2016.
This year, China increased military and diplomatic pressure, conducting air and sea military exercises around the island and persuading three of the few governments still supporting Taiwan to drop their backing.
Tsai said earlier this month she will maintain the status quo with Beijing, but also vowed to boost Taiwan’s national security and said her government would not submit to Chinese suppression.