Beijing condemns the trip – on the 13th this year – as a “provocatio” and a “show of force”.
Two US warships crossed the sensitive Taiwan Strait on Thursday as part of the second such mission this month, sparking protests from Beijing. This came nearly two weeks after a group of Chinese aircraft carriers traveled the same waterway.
China, which claims to democratically run Taiwan as its own, has been angered by increased US support for the island, including arms sales and its warships crossing the Taiwan Strait.
The US Navy said the guided missile destroyers USS John S McCain and USS Curtis Wilbur had “routinely transited the Taiwan Strait on December 31 in accordance with international law.”
“The transit of ships through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The US military will continue to fly, navigate and operate wherever international law permits.
This is the 13th crossing of the Strait by the US Navy this year.
The Chinese Defense Ministry condemned the trip as a “provocation” and “show of force”, adding that Chinese ships and planes were following American ships.
The passage of ships sent the wrong message to supporters of Taiwan independence and poses a serious threat to peace and stability, he added.
“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army maintains a high alert level at all times, responds to all threats and provocations at all times, and resolutely defends national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the ministry said.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said the ships sailed north through the strait on what it called an “ordinary mission.” The Taiwanese armed forces have been monitoring the navigation and the situation is “normal”, he added.
The Chinese military said it followed the last US warship to cross the Taiwan Strait on December 19 – a mission it also condemned.
The day after that trip, Taiwan deployed its navy and air force as a group of Chinese aircraft carriers led by the country’s newest aircraft carrier, Shandong, crossed the Taiwan Strait.
China said the group was on their way to routine exercises in the disputed South China Sea.