US, China tensions mount | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 09, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:47 AM, July 09, 2018

US, China tensions mount

Two US destroyers sail into Taiwan Strait

Two United States warships entered the Taiwan Strait on Saturday at a time of heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing.

The destroyers USS Mustin and USS Benfold sailed into the waterway separating Taiwan and China on Saturday morning, Taiwan's defence ministry confirmed.

"The military is monitoring the situation in neighbouring areas, and has the confidence and abilities to maintain regional stability and defend national security," it said in a statement.

A defence ministry official told AFP the ships were still in the strait on Saturday night, sailing in what he described as international waters.

US Pacific Fleet spokesperson Captain Charlie Brown confirmed two vessels were transiting through the strait but played down the significance of the manoeuvre.

"US Navy ships transit between the South China Sea and East China Sea via the Taiwan Strait and have done so for many years," he told AFP.

But the warships' entry into the strait comes as Washington and Beijing are locked in a trade war and as tensions escalate between Beijing and Taipei.

US President Donald Trump on Friday rolled out 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods in what Beijing called the "largest trade war" in economic history.

China said it was hitting back with retaliatory measures on US goods but did not immediately provide precise details.

China sees self-ruling democratic Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified, by force if necessary, but the island regards itself as a sovereign country.

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