East China Sea (Mar. 28, 2003) -- The guided missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) underway in the rough seas of the East China Sea. Antietam is part of the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Battle Group. Antietam and Carl Vinson have just completed participating in Exercise Foal Eagle and are continuing their deployment in the western Pacific Ocean. Exercise Foal Eagle is an annual joint and combined field training exercise between the U.S. and Republic of Korea armed forces. The exercise is designed to strengthen relationships and improve interoperability between both nations through real world training scenarios. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Aaron Hampton.
US Warship Sails Through Taiwan Strait amid China Tensions
Taiwan said Thursday the U.S. Navy is free to sail through its strait after an American warship did so soon after Beijing warned against foreign interference in its relationship with the island.
The USS Antietam sailed northward through the Taiwan Strait, said a statement from Taiwan's Defence Ministry. Taiwan's joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance task force said nothing ``unusual'' took place during its journey, the statement said.
Cmdr. Clay Doss, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet, said the Antietam conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit Wednesday to Thursday ``in accordance with international law.'' The Antietam is a guided missile cruiser.
The transit ``demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,'' Doss said. ``The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.''
China said it paid close attention to the passage and has expressed its concerns to the U.S.
``The Taiwan issue is the most important and sensitive issue in China-U.S. relations,'' Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing Thursday. China urges the U.S. to ``properly handle Taiwan-related issues with caution,'' she said.
On Wednesday, China warned in a national defence white paper that it could use force against anyone who intervenes in its efforts to reunify Taiwan. The ruling Communist Party considers Taiwan part of China, though the democratically governed island split from the mainland amid civil war in 1949.
``If anyone dares to separate Taiwan from China, the Chinese army will certainly fight, resolutely defending the country's sovereign unity and territorial integrity,'' Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said Wednesday during a briefing on the white paper.
The U.S. has repeatedly raised Beijing's ire by selling arms to Taiwan. While the U.S. does not have formal diplomatic ties with the island, U.S. law requires that it provide Taiwan with sufficient defence equipment and services for self-defence.
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