Two US Navy Destroyers Sail Through The Tense Taiwan Strait

Ryan Pickrell | China/Asia Pacific Reporter

Two U.S. Navy warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait Saturday amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Mustin (DDG-89) and USS Benfold (DDG-65) traversed the strait, according to Taiwan News. This is the first time the U.S. Navy has sent ships through the strait since the Bush administration did so in 2007, when the supercarrier USS Kitty Hawk and eight accompanying ships transited the Taiwan Strait on the way back to Japan after being barred from entering port in Hong Kong.

The passage through the strait was confirmed by three U.S. officials, according to Fox News.

The possibility of such a move was first reported in June. (RELATED: US Reportedly Considering Sending Warships Through The Taiwan Strait)

In recent months, the U.S. and China have been increasingly at odds on a number of major issues ranging from China’s militarization of the South China Sea to trade practices.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis accused China of “intimidation and coercion” at an international security forum in Singapore early in June, criticizing the Chinese for deploying jamming technology, anti-ship cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles and heavy bombers to contested territories in the tense South China Sea.

“Deploying troops and weapons on islands in the South China Sea is within China’s sovereign right and allowed by international law,” Chinese Lt. Gen. He Lei said in response, calling Mattis’ comments “irresponsible.”

The Pentagon disinvited China from the biennial Rim of the Pacific maritime exercises over this troubling issue.

The U.S. has also had problems with China in Africa, where Chinese personnel reportedly targeted U.S. military pilots operating in the area with a military-grade laser in violation of international law.

Tensions have also been building over Taiwan, as Beijing accuses the U.S. of emboldening separatist forces with pro-independence leanings. (RELATED: China On Edge As US Seriously Considers Sending The Marines To Taiwan)

And, of course, there is the escalating trade war. Both China and the U.S. have imposed tariffs on tens of billions of dollars worth of exports, and there is the possibility the situation will worsen further as both sides prepare for a protracted trade conflict. (RELATED: US, China Locked In ‘Largest Trade War In Economic History’ As Tens Of Billions Of Dollars In Tariffs Drop)

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