In a move that is likely to exacerbate tensions between the United States and China, the US Navy sailed a warship through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday. The transit by the USS Milius was the first known passage of a US warship through the strait since China conducted military exercises in the area.
The US 7th Fleet described the transit as routine, stating that the cruiser had “transited through a corridor in the Strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal State.” China, which has been conducting military drills in the strait as a response to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to the US earlier this month, had warned against the US interfering in what it considers to be a domestic issue.
China’s drills, which simulated an encirclement of Taiwan, were intended to be a “serious warning” to pro-independence politicians on the island and their foreign supporters, according to a statement released by China on Wednesday. The country also imposed sanctions on the organizations involved with Tsai’s visit, including the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, where her meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other members of Congress was held.
In a separate development, China launched a rocket carrying a satellite on Sunday, which dropped debris into waters north of Taipei. While the satellite launch did not have any apparent military purpose, it disrupted to travel in the area, leading to delays in flights.
The recent events have contributed to an already tense relationship between the US and China, with the two countries at loggerheads on several issues, including trade, security, and human rights. The US’s latest move is likely to further fuel China’s ire and increase the risk of further confrontations between the two superpowers.