The US is sending two warships through the Taiwan Strait, the first transit since the Pelosi trip

The guided-missile ships USS Antietam and USS Chancellorsville will sail on Sunday “in compliance with international law of high seas navigation and overflight,” the US 7th Fleet in Japan said in a statement.

It said the traffic was “continuing” and “so far there has been no interference by foreign military forces”.

“These ships (pass) through a corridor in a strait beyond the territorial sea of ​​any coastal state where the military flies, travels and operates anywhere permitted by international law,” it said.

The strait is a 110-mile (180-kilometer) stretch of water that separates the democratically autonomous island of Taiwan from mainland China.

Although China’s ruling Communist Party has never controlled the island, Beijing claims sovereignty over Taiwan — and considers the strait part of its “internal waters.”

However, the US Navy says most of the strait is in international waters.

The navy cites international law that defines maritime boundaries as 12 nautical miles (22.2 kilometers) from a country’s coast and continues to send its warships through the strait in what it calls freedom of navigation operations, including recent voyages. Guided missile destroyer USS Penfold and USS Port Royal.

Those transfers drew angry responses from Beijing.

“The United States’ frequent provocations and exposure fully prove that the United States is the destroyer of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the creator of security risks in the Taiwan Strait,” said People’s Liberation Army spokesman Col. Shi Yi. Eastern Theater Command said after Penfold’s transport on July 19.

Beijing has ramped up military maneuvers in the strait — and the skies above it — following Pelosi’s visit to the island earlier this month.

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Minutes after Pelosi landed in Taiwan on August 2, the PLA announced four days of military exercises in six zones around the island.

The maneuvers include launching ballistic missiles into the waters around Taiwan, numerous Chinese warships steaming through the Taiwan Strait and dozens of PLA warplanes crossing the demarcation line — the middle lane between China and Taiwan that Beijing does not recognize but greatly respects.

Since those exercises officially ended, PLA fighter jets have routinely crossed the daily average in double-digit numbers, according to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry statistics. From August 8, the last of four days of exercises announced the night Pelosi landed in Taiwan, until August 22, an average of between five and 21 PLA flights crossed the line each day.

In July, the month before Pelosi’s trip, Chinese fighter jets crossed the median once with an unspecified number of jets, according to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry.

Additionally, Taiwan reports that five to 14 PLA warships have been spotted in waters around Taiwan.

As part of a busy season for Chinese exercises, the PLA’s exercises continue this week.

China’s Eastern Theater Command said Friday it conducted “joint combat readiness security patrols and combat training exercises involving troops and weapons from multiple services” around Taiwan.

The announcement came after U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, was named to the Senate Armed Services Committee. He became the latest member of Congress to visit Taiwan Defying pressure from Beijing, he said, “I will not be bullied by Communist China and turn my back on the island.”

In tweets Friday morning, the U.S. senator, who does not represent the Biden administration, reiterated his support for Taiwan.

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“I will never betray the Chinese Communist Party,” he said in one. “I will continue to stand by (Taiwanese) and their right to freedom and democracy. Xi Jinping does not scare me,” he said later, referring to China’s leader.

US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns told CNN last week Beijing’s response to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was “an overreaction.”

“We do not believe that the visit of the Speaker of the House of Representatives to Taiwan — a peaceful visit — should be a crisis in US-China relations … It is a government-created crisis in Beijing.” Burns said in an interview with the US Embassy.

“The onus is on the government in Beijing to convince the rest of the world that it will act peacefully in the future,” the ambassador said.

“I think there’s a lot of concern around the world that China has now become an agent of destabilization in the Taiwan Strait, and that’s not in anybody’s interest,” he said.

Other US officials have said Washington will not change the way the US military operates in the region.

“We will continue to fly, travel and operate where international law allows, consistent with our longstanding commitment to freedom of navigation, including conducting sustained air and sea transit through the Taiwan Strait over the next few weeks,” Kurt Campbell, US President Joe Biden’s coordinator for the Indo-Pacific region, said in August. 12 told reporters at the White House.

China’s ambassador to Washington, Qin Gang, said last week that the US visits would exacerbate tensions.

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“I call on my American colleagues to exercise restraint and not do anything to escalate tensions,” Qin told reporters in Washington. “If there is any move that harms China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, China will retaliate.”

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