Two US warships move into Taiwan Strait

Image taken from U.S. Navy's official website

Two U.S. warships passed through the Taiwan Strait on Saturday on a voyage that will likely be viewed in the self-ruled island as a sign of support by President Donald Trump amid heightened tension with China.

USA officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the destroyers Mustin and Benfold carried out the passage.

Word of the transit was first made public by a statement from Taiwan's Defense Ministry that said the identified the two ships by their hull numbers.

The Taiwanese defense ministry said in a statement the two ships, the USS Mustin and USS Benfold, entered the waterway Saturday morning, AFP reported.

The decision to name Taiwan, "Chinese Taipei" instead of "Taiwan, China" is innovative, however, because this is Taiwan's official name in worldwide organizations like the Olympic Games, the Federation Internationale de Football Association, or the World Health Organization.

Taiwan, which has grown closer to the United States under the Trump administration, said that its military "is monitoring the situation in neighbouring areas, and has the confidence and abilities to maintain regional stability and defend national security". An American aircraft carrier has not sailed through the Strait since 2007.

The passage through the Taiwan Strait, the first such one by a U.S. Navy ship in about a year, follows a series of Chinese military drills around the island that have stoked tensions between Taipei and Beijing.

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Washington has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help it defend itself and is the island's main source of arms.

The move comes as a U.S.

China's hostility toward Taiwan has grown since the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen, a member of the island's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party.

"Taiwan is a key "core interest" of Beijing and recently we see more strident resistance voiced out in Chinese state media against perceived USA moves to undermine such interest", Koh said.

US support for Taiwan is evident, as the Unites States continues to sell it military weapons even though it does not have diplomatic relations with the province.

A growing number of global airlines and companies were also forced to change Taiwan's name to "Taiwan, China" or "Chinese Taipei" due to pressure from Beijing.

Taiwan, he added, is at the forefront of key issues for China - perhaps even more important to Beijing than its territorial row with Tokyo in the East China Sea over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, known in China as the Diaoyus.

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