The USS Chung-Hoon passes the USS Arizona Memorial during ceremonies honoring the 73rd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument in Honolulu, Hawaii, December 7, 2014. Photo by Reuters/Hugh Gentry
A US and a Canadian warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Saturday, the US Navy said, in a rare joint mission in the sensitive waterway at a time of heightened tensions between Beijing and Washington over Chinese-claimed Taiwan.
The US Navy’s 7th Fleet said the guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon and Canada’s HMCS Montreal conducted a “routine” transit of the strait “through waters where high-seas freedoms of navigation and overflight apply in accordance with international law”.
“Chung-Hoon and Montreal’s bilateral transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the commitment of the United States and our allies and partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” it said in a statement.
While US warships transit the strait around once a month, it is unusual for them to do so with those of other US allies.
The mission took place as the US and Chinese defense chiefs were attending a major regional security summit in Singapore.
At that event, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin rebuked China for refusing to hold military talks, leaving the superpowers deadlocked over Taiwan and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
China has been ramping up military and political pressure in an attempt to force Taiwan to accept Beijing’s sovereignty claims, which the government in Taipei strongly rejects.