Sat, 24 Jul 2021

Washington [US], June 23 (ANI): A United States warship sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait to demonstrate America's commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, amid China's growing military presence in the South China Sea.

The USS Curtis Wilbur, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, conducted a "routine transit" through the strategic waterway that separates Taiwan from mainland China on Tuesday to "demonstrate the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific", according to a US Navy statement.

"The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows," it said.

It was the sixth transit by the US Navy since US President Joe Biden took office. Washington has made clear its focus on the Indo-Pacific region, South China Morning Post reported. This comes as China has ramped up political and military pressure on Taiwan.

The US Navy's latest transit was fully monitored by China's military, Zhang Chunhui, a spokesman for China's Eastern Theatre Command, said on Wednesday.

"The US has repeated its old tricks to create disruption in the Taiwan Strait, deliberately sabotaging regional security and seriously damaging the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait," he said.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's defence ministry said the US destroyer had sailed northward through the strait, and that the Taiwanese military had a full grasp of relevant activities in its sea and airspaceLast time, in May, USS Curtis Wilbur navigated through the waterway separating Taiwan and China.

Indo-Pacific region is largely viewed as an area comprising the Indian Ocean and the western and central Pacific Ocean, including the South China Sea.

China's territorial claims in the South China Sea and its efforts to advance into the Indian Ocean are seen to have challenged the established rules-based system.

The Taiwan Strait is a 180-kilometre-wide strait separating the island of Taiwan and continental Asia. It is one of the most heavily policed strips of water in the world.

The strait is in international waters, however, China claims Taiwan as its own territory and regards the US Navy's presence in the area as a show of support for the island's democratic government. (ANI)

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