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U.S. naval officer reaffirms right of passage in Taiwan Strait

2019/01/29 12:34:36

Washington, Jan. 28 (CNA) The Taiwan Strait is international waters and U.S. warships have the right to pass through the waterway, Chief U.S. Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson reaffirmed on Monday.

Richardson was responding to questions at a forum held by Washington-based think tank Brookings Institution about how the United States interacted with China when two U.S. naval ships passed through the strait last week.

He said that when U.S. naval ships pass through the strait, all parties concerned will respond professionally and that "there is no concern there."

Asked about whether the U.S. would send aircraft carriers to sail through the strait in the future, Richardson sidestepped the question, saying only that the Taiwan Strait is international waters and anything that can be done in international waters applies to the strait.

U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell and fleet replenishment oiler USNS Walter S. Diehl sailed through the strait on Jan. 24.

According to Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense, it was the fourth time the U.S. Navy had sent vessels through the Taiwan Strait since July 2018, after similar operations in October and November.

Lt. Col. Christopher Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, confirmed later that day in an email response to CNA that two U.S. Navy ships had indeed transited between the South China Sea and East China Sea via the Taiwan Strait.

"This routine transit through international waters of the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific," Logan wrote. "The U.S. will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows."

(By Chiang Chin-ye and Evelyn Kao)
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