The U.S. warship USS Milius sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, April 16 in what the U.S. Navy described on Monday as a “routine” transit, just days after China ended its latest invasion war games around the island.
China, which views Taiwan as its own territory, officially ended its three days of exercises around Taiwan last week Monday, April 10 where it practiced precision strikes and blockading the island.
The drills were staged by China to express anger at Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting with U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy, viewing it as an interference in China’s internal affairs and U.S. support for Taiwan’s separate identity from China.
China has never renounced the use of force to bring democratically governed Taiwan under its control.
Taiwan’s government rejects China’s territorial claims, and says only the island’s people can decide their future.
On Monday, April 17, the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet said the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius conducted a “routine Taiwan Strait transit” through waters “where high-seas freedoms of navigation and overflight apply in accordance with international law”.
The ship’s transit demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, it added.
Chinese military’s Eastern Theatre Command said in a social media post on Monday, it organised troops to follow and monitor the U.S. destroyer throughout its operation.
The U.S. Navy sails warships through the Taiwan strait around once a month, and also regularly conducts similar freedom of navigation missions in the disputed South China Sea.