Pentagon sends ships through Taiwan Strait amid tensions with China

The Pentagon sent U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday amid growing tensions between China and Taiwan.

“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” a U.S. military statement said, according to Reuters. “The U.S. will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows."

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The deployment of Navy destroyer Curtis Wilbur and Coast Guard cutter Bertholf risks raising tensions with China but will likely be seen by Taiwan as a sign of support from Washington.

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 acknowledgement of Beijing's "One China" policy, but has supported the island through arms sales.

The U.S. sent warships through the strait earlier this year.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters Sunday that China had already lodged “representations” with the U.S. and that it had paid “close attention” to the U.S. ships, according to Reuters.

China urges the United States to “cautiously and appropriately handle the Taiwan issue to avoid harming Sino-U.S. relations and peace and stability in the Taiwan strait,” Geng added.