Two U.S. defense officials told CNN that several Chinese warships followed the Yokosuka-based 7th Fleet ships at a safe distance. "Taiwan might talk up its asymmetric warfare capabilities, but without the U.S. Taiwan would be dead".
Chinese security experts blasted the move by saying it suggests Washington would stand by Taiwan in case of a crisis with China.
The destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur and cruiser USS Antietam were shadowed by Chinese naval vessels as they transited the strait. "The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere worldwide law allows", he stressed.
Beijing recently conducted a series of military manoeuvres, including a live fire exercise in the Taiwan Strait in April, declaring its willingness to confront Taiwan's "independence forces".
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Taiwan's Defense Ministry first confirmed the transit in a statement.
While the US and China cooperate in denuclearizing North Korea, tensions have increased as both the USA and China have engaged in a trade war.
China, concerned that United States military actions around Taiwan will embolden pro-independence factions on the self-ruled island, has bolstered its military presence in the area this past year. Despite this, Washington has kept informal relations with the island nation after severing diplomatic ties with it in 1979.
The transit coincides with a period of rising tension between Taiwan and China, which considers the island one of its provinces.
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