Taipei [Taiwan], May 19 (ANI): Amid China's growing military presence in the South China Sea and neighbouring waters, a US Navy destroyer transited the Taiwan Strait to demonstrate America's commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.
"The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit May 18 (local time) in accordance with international law. The ship's transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific," the US 7th Fleet said in a statement.
"The United States military will continue to fly, sail, and operate anywhere international law allows," it said.
This is the fifth time a US battleship has navigated through the waterway separating Taiwan and China since US President Joe Biden assumed office in January, Focus Taiwan reported.
US warships, all Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, had made similar passages before Tuesday since Biden took office on January 20 - the USS John S. McCain on February 4 and April 17, the USS Curtis Wilbur on February 24, and the USS John Finn on March 10.
Indo-Pacific region is largely viewed as an area comprising the Indian Ocean and the western and central Pacific Ocean, including the South China Sea.
China's territorial claims in the South China Sea and its efforts to advance into the Indian Ocean are seen to have challenged the established rules-based system.
Meanwhile, the US Pacific Fleet posted a message on Facebook on Wednesday saying its 7th Fleet aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force guided-missile destroyer JS Maya sailed together during a recent training exercise in the Philippine Sea.
The Taiwan Strait is a 180-kilometre-wide strait separating the island of Taiwan and continental Asia. The strait is in international waters, however, China claims Taiwan as its own territory and regards the US Navy's presence in the area as a show of support for the island's democratic government.
China accused the US on Wednesday of threatening the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait.
In a statement on the Defence Ministry website, spokesperson for the Eastern Theater Command Col. Zhang Chunhui said the US actions were "sending wrong signals to the 'Taiwan independence forces, deliberately disrupting and sabotaging the regional situation and endangering peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait."
He said Chinese forces tracked and monitored the ship and "strictly guarded against all threats and provocations." (ANI)