A US Navy official confirmed that two US warships passed through the Taiwan Straits between Saturday and Sunday. Chinese experts told the Global Times that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had most likely monitored their movements closely.
“Two US Navy ships conducted a routine transit through the international waters of the Taiwan Straits on July 7-8 (local time),” Captain Charlie Brown, a spokesman for the US Pacific Fleet, was quoted by Reuters as saying in a statement on Sunday.
“US Navy Ships transit between the South China Sea and East China Sea via the Taiwan Straits and have done so for many years,” he said, according to Reuters.
Taiwan’s “defense ministry” said on Saturday that the two US warships are Burke Class Destroyers USS Mustin and USS Benfold, reported Taipei-based newspaper Liberty Times on Saturday.
The PLA Navy must have monitored the entire situation and had it under control, a Chinese military expert, who asked not to be named, told the Global Times on Saturday.
The warships’ presence has aggravated tensions across the Taiwan Straits amid a sensitive period concerning the Taiwan question and the China-US trade dispute, the expert said.
The move is a signal from the US to Taiwan authorities, telling them not to be afraid, the expert noted.
PLA Navy warships conducted an island encirclement exercise around Taiwan last month.
“Many signs show that the US is not directing against China in one specific aspect, but on a series of issues,” the expert said.
“The US is launching operations against China that not only involve military and security, but also trade and diplomacy,” he said, adding that the US’ strategy on China has changed over the past year. The US has label China as a “strategic competitor.”
In response to reports that US was considering sending a warship through the Taiwan Straits in early June, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on June 5 that the US should prudently handle the Taiwan question so as to avoid harming bilateral ties and peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits region.
“The Taiwan question is the most important and sensitive core issue in China-US relations,” Hua said.