US warships pass through Taiwan Strait amid China tensions


TAIPEI — The United States sent two warships through the Taiwan Strait on Thursday in the first such operation this year, the Taiwan government said, as it increases the frequency of transits through the strategic waterway to the concern of China.

The passage by the U.S. ships will likely be viewed in Taiwan as a sign of support from U.S. President Donald Trump’s government amid growing friction between the self-ruled island and Beijing.

China considers Taiwan its own and has not ruled out the use of force to bring it under its control.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said in a statement late on Thursday the ships were moving in a northerly direction through the waterway that separates Taiwan from the Chinese mainland and that their voyage was in accordance with regulations.

It said Taiwan closely monitored the operation to “ensure the security of the seas and regional stability”.