TAIPEI: The USS Milius traveled through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, in what the US Navy termed as a “routine” passage on Monday, only days after China concluded its latest war games surrounding the island.
China, which considers Taiwan to be its own territory, formally concluded three days of exercises around Taiwan on Monday, during which it simulated precision attacks and blockading the island.
It held the drills to indicate its displeasure with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting with US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy, which it saw as an intervention in China’s domestic affairs and US support for Taiwan’s separate identity from China.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius made a “routine Taiwan Strait transit” in waters “where high-seas freedoms of navigation and overflight apply in accordance with international law,” according to the US Navy’s 7th Fleet.
The transit of the ship underlines the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, it added.
In a social media statement on Monday, the Chinese military’s Eastern Theatre Command stated it had organized personnel to track and monitor the US destroyer throughout its operation.
According to Taiwan’s defense ministry, the ship went north via the strait and the situation in the strait was “as normal” during its transit.
The US Navy sends warships through the strait around once a month, and it also undertakes similar freedom of passage missions in the disputed South China Sea on a regular basis.
The USS Milius cruised last week near Mischief Reef, one of the most prominent man-made and Chinese-controlled islands in the South China Sea. Beijing called it illegal.
Since the drills finished, China has continued its military activities around Taiwan, albeit on a smaller scale.
Taiwan’s defense ministry reported on Monday morning that it had detected 18 Chinese military aircraft and four naval vessels moving around Taiwan in the previous 24 hours.
China has never abandoned the use of force to seize democratically controlled Taiwan.
Taiwan’s administration denies China’s territorial claims, claiming that only the people of the island can decide their fate.