Navy warships again sail through the Taiwan Strait amid rising trade tensions with China

news

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88) transits the Indian Ocean March 29, 2018. Picture taken March 29, 2018.

(U.S. Navy/ Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Morgan K. Nall)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military said it sent two Navy ships through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, its latest transit through the sensitive waterway, angering China at a time of tense relations between the world's two biggest economies.

Taiwan is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, which also include a bitter trade war, U.S. sanctions and China's increasingly muscular military posture in the South China Sea, where the United States also conducts freedom-of-navigation patrols.

The voyage will be viewed by self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support from the Trump administration amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing, which views the island as a breakaway province.


The transit was carried out by the destroyer Preble and the Navy oil tanker Walter S. Diehl, a U.S. militaryspokesman told Reuters.

"The ships' transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific," Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet, said in a statement.

Doss said all interactions were safe and professional.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Beijing had lodged "stern representations" with the United States.

"The Taiwan issue is the most sensitive in China-U.S. relations," he told a daily news briefing in Beijing.

Taiwan's Defense Ministry said the two U.S. ships had sailed north through the Taiwan Strait and that they had monitored the mission.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said there was no cause for alarm.

"Nothing abnormal happened during it, please everyone rest assured," she wrote on her Facebook page.

U.S. warships have sailed through the Taiwan Strait at least once a month since the start of this year. The United States restarted such missions on a regular basis last July.

The United States has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help provide the island with the means to defend itself and is its main source of arms.

The Pentagon says Washington has sold Taipei more than $15 billion in weaponry since 2010.

China has been ramping up pressure to assert its sovereignty over the island, which it considers part of "one China" and sacred Chinese territory, to be brought under Beijing's control by force if needed.

Beijing said a recent Taiwan Strait passage by a French warship, first reported by Reuters, was illegal.

China has repeatedly sent military aircraft and ships to circle Taiwan on exercises in the past few years and worked to isolate it internationally, whittling down its few remaining diplomatic allies.

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency released a report earlier this year describing Taiwan as the "primary driver" for China's military modernization, which it said had made major advances in recent years.

On Sunday, the Preble sailed near the disputed Scarborough Shoal claimed by China in the South China Sea, angering Beijing.

The state-run China Daily said in an editorial on Wednesday that China had shown "utmost restraint".

"With tensions between the two countries already rife, there is no guarantee that the presence of U.S. warships on China's doorstep will not spark direct confrontation between the two militaries," it said.

SEE ALSO: China Swallowed Islands In The South China Sea. Now It Wants To Eat Djibouti Like Groceries

WATCH NEXT: FONOPs Are Not Fun Ops

Few things say "I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I'm all out of bubble gum" like a Navy amphibious assault craft absolutely covered with Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighters ready to bomb an adversary back to the Stone Age.

That's the logic behind the so-called "Lightning Carrier" concept designed to turn those "Gator Navy" amphibs into ad hoc aircraft carriers — and the Corps appears to be moving slowly but surely into turning that concept into a new doctrine for the new era of great power competition.

Read More Show Less

The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report into the fatal crash of a B-17 bomber crash in Connecticut earlier this month.

Shortly after takeoff at 9:50 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 2, the pilot of the vintage WWII-era plane signaled to air traffic control at Bradley International Airport that he sought to land.

Read More Show Less

While America's forever wars continue to rage abroad, the streaming wars are starting to heat up at home.

On Monday, the Walt Disney Company announced that its brand new online streaming service, aptly titled Disney+, will launch an all-out assault on eyeballs around the world with an arsenal of your favorite content starting on November 12th. Marvel Cinematic Universe content! Star Wars content! Pixar content! Classic Disney animation content!

While the initial Disney+ content lineup looks like the most overpowered alliance since NATO, there's one addition of particular interest hidden in Disney's massive Twitter announcement, an elite strike force with a unique mission that stands ready to eliminate streaming enemies like Netflix and Hulu no matter where they may hide.

That's right, I'm talking about Operation Dumbo Drop — and no, I am not fucking around.

Read More Show Less

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

On Monday, The New York Times reported that U.S. officials were considering plans to move the U.S. nuclear arsenal from Inçirlik Air Base in Turkey.

This move would be likely to further deteriorate the tense relationship between the U.S. and Turkey, which has rapidly devolved as Turkey invaded northeastern Syria in assault on the Kurdish forces that fought ISIS alongside the U.S.

Read More Show Less

Soldiers are smoking a whole lot more weed if they happen to be stationed in or near a state where it's legal, and the Army has definitely noticed.

At nine Army bases in or near marijuana-friendly states, there has been a roughly 18% increase between 2017 and 2018 in positive drug tests for THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the principal psychoactive component in cannabis. For comparison, there has been a 5% increase in soldiers testing positive for THC across the entire Army.

Read More Show Less