The U.S. Navy on Sunday sent two warships through the Taiwan Strait as the United States continues to increase its visible presence in the region.
“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Cmdr. Clay Doss, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet, said in a statement to Reuters.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense confirmed the U.S. ships had sailed north through the strait.
“U.S. ships freely passing through the Taiwan Strait is part of the mission of carrying out the Indo-Pacific strategy,” it said in a statement, according to Reuters.
The strait, which separates the island from mainland China, has been a growing flashpoint in the U.S.-China relationship.
China has stepped up pressure on the island amid concerns from Beijing that Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is pushing for formal independence.
Taiwan, which considers itself a sovereign state with a democratic government, is viewed by China as a breakaway province.
The U.S. does not recognize Taiwan as a separate government because of its acknowledgment of Beijing's "One China" policy, but has supported the island through arms sales and is bound by law to help Taiwan defend itself.
China has condemned the U.S.'s increased presence in the strait.
On Sunday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China expressed concern to the U.S. over the exercise.
“The Taiwan issue is the most important and sensitive issue in Sino-U.S. relations,” he said at a daily news briefing, according to Reuters.