Two US warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday in the first such US operation since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visited Taipei at the beginning of August.
The US Navy’s Seventh Fleet said the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam and USS Chancellorsville made the passage through the Strait. China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) slammed the provocation and said it tracked the US warships as they made the transit.
“The People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command warned the US vessels and monitored their entire passage. We are fully aware of their activities. Troops of the theatre command remain on high alert and are ready to thwart any provocation,” said PLA spokesman Col. Shi Yi.
In recent years, US military activity has increased in the region. The US regularly sends warships through the Taiwan Strait at about a monthly rate but typically sends a single destroyer to make the transit. The last time the US sent two warships through the waterway was in December 2020, when the guided-missile destroyers USS John McCain and USS Curtis Wilbur made the passage.
Pelosi was the first House speaker to visit Taiwan since 1997, and her controversial trip sparked the largest-ever Chinese military exercises around Taiwan. During the drills, the PLA took the unprecedented steps of simulating a blockade around Taiwan and firing missiles over the island.
China has kept up the military pressure around Taiwan since Pelosi’s visit, and US delegations to the island have continued throughout August. The latest US official to visit Taiwan was Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who said she made the trip to “send a message to Beijing” and slammed China as part of a new “Axis of Evil.”
From Beijing’s perspective, the frequent congressional delegations are a sign that the US is moving away from the one-China policy. Chinese officials have warned that US support for what they call “independence forces” in Taiwan could lead to war.