The USS Mustin, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, sailed through the Taiwan Strait yesterday, the 12th time this year that a US warship transited the waterway.
The US 7th Fleet said in a statement that the Mustin conducted a routine transit 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 United States military will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” the statement read.
The Ministry of National Defense said that the US vessel entered the Strait from the north and headed south.
Taiwan University associate professor of political science Chen Shih-min (陳世民) said that the US Navy is conducting warship transits through the Strait to support freedom of navigation in waters near Taiwan and its national security.
The transits show that the US would not tolerate China’s behavior of circling Taiwan’s territorial waters and airspace with warships and military aircraft, or its attempt to transform the Strait into Chinese territory, he said.
US warships sailed through the Strait nine times last year.
Institute for National Defense and Security Research assistant research fellow Jeremy Hung (洪子傑) said that the higher number of US transits this year reflects the US-China competition for influence in the region.
“In addition to warships, US military aircraft have also carried out more fly-bys in the airspace [around Taiwan] with their IFF [identification friend or foe] systems turned on, a move that is calculated to telegraph their presence to other countries and send a political message,” he said.
The previous time a US warship navigated the Strait was on Nov. 21.
The US 7th Fleet in a Facebook post the same day identified the ship as the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry.
“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” the post said.
“The United States and Taiwan are strong partners in defending freedom, advancing economic ties, and promoting our shared democratic values. The American Institute in Taiwan Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue strengthens our economic relationship even further,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote on Twitter the same day.
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