U.S. warship sails through Taiwan Strait
Taipei, July 20 (CNA) A U.S. warship sailed passed international waters in the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday to show Washington's "commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific," the 7th Fleet under the U.S. Pacific Command said in a statement.
The ship, identified as the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65), conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit "through international waters in accordance with international law."
"The ship transited through a corridor in the Strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal state," it stressed.
"The ship's transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States' commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows," it added.
Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) later confirmed the transit, saying in a statement that the military was on top of the situation as a U.S. destroyer sailed northward in the Taiwan Strait, and it did not see any irregularities.
U.S. warships have been making routine, almost monthly passages through the waterway separating Taiwan and China for the past two-plus years.
The last voyage made by an American warship was on May 10 by the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73).
The latest passage came a month after China said it had sovereign and administrative rights over the Taiwan Strait and denied U.S. claims that the channel should be treated as international waters.
Taiwan's government later described China's sovereignty claim over the Taiwan Strait by saying that the only waters over which any country has full sovereignty are its 12-nautical mile territorial waters.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Taiwan Strait "is international waters and that freedom of the seas as defined in international law applies to waters beyond Taiwan's territorial sea limits."
"Taiwan also understands the benefits of and supports the freedom of navigation operations conducted by the United States that serve to promote peace and stability in the region," it added.
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