Published On: Fri, Aug 23rd, 2019

South China Sea: US military sends navy ship through strategic Taiwan Strait | World | News

The US military has raised the frequency of its transport movements through the strategic waterway in the face of opposition from China. Today’s deployment risks further stoking tensions sparked by the bitter trade war between the world’s two biggest economies but will likely be viewed by self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support from Donald Trump.

This month China denounced arms sales from the US to Taiwan and in July said it was ready for war if there was any move by Taiwan towards independence.

Beijing has been ramping up pressure to assert its sovereignty over the island, which it considers a wayward province.

Commander Reann Mommsen, a spokeswoman for the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, said the ship’s transit through the Strait – a 112-mile waterway separating Taiwan from China – “demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific”.

She identified the vessel as the Green Bay, an amphibious transport dock ship.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry issued a statement saying the island’s military had a full grasp of the situation in the Strait and closely monitored it. It made no direct mention of the US ship.

Washington has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help defend the island nation and is its main source of arms.

READ MORE: South China Sea: Australia join forces with Vietnam against China 

Earlier this month the US approved a possible £7billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan, which recently unveiled its largest defence spending increase in more than a decade.

Beijing responded with fury and warned Washington the move would put any potential trade deal in jeopardy.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying stated that the US would “bear all the consequences” of striking a deal with Taiwan.

The Green Bay’s movements also take place against the backdrop of demonstrations in Hong Kong against a perceived erosion of freedoms in the former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Beijing has reacted sharply to the protests and has accused foreign countries, including the US, of stirring up trouble.

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