US Navy warship ‘passes through Taiwan Strait’
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US Navy warship ‘passes through Taiwan Strait’

The warship, identified as the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam, purportedly passed through the 180-kilometer-wide strait on Wednesday.   “The (ship’s) transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, in a statement. “The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”   Taiwan’s defense ministry also said in a statement that the American warship had sailed north through the Taiwan Strait in its so-called freedom-of-navigation voyage and that Taiwan had monitored the mission.   There was no immediate comment from China, but it is expected to object.   Beijing has sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan, and under the “One China” policy, almost all world countries recognize that sovereignty.   The US, too, recognizes Chinese sovereignty over the island but has long courted Taipei in an attempt to counter Beijing. The administration of US President Donald Trump in particular has been cozying up to Taiwan amid increasing tensions with Beijing over trade and a host of other issues.   Meanwhile, the US State Department has approved the sale of 2.2 billion dollars in arms to Taiwan, including 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks, 250 Stinger missiles, and related equipment.   Earlier this month, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the government and Chinese companies will sever business ties with US firms selling arms to self-ruled Taiwan.   On Wednesday, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said that Beijing would do its best to bring about a peaceful reunification with Taiwan.   But he warned, “If there are people who dare to try to split Taiwan from the country, China’s military will be ready to go to war to firmly safeguard national sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.”   Taiwan is one of a number of sticking points in the US-China relationship, which also include a persisting trade war initiated by the US.  

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