A handout image courtesy of the US Navy shows the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) in the Taiwan Strait. AFP
Two US warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, the American navy said, the first such transit since China staged unprecedented military drills around the island.
In a statement, the US Navy said the transit "demonstrates the United States' commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific."
Tensions in the Taiwan Strait soared to their highest level in years this month after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei.
Beijing reacted furiously, staging days of air and sea exercises around the self-ruled island.
A Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser conducts operations in the Taiwan Strait on Sunday. Reuters
Taiwan lives under constant threat of an invasion by China, which claims the democracy as part of its territory to be seized one day -- by force if necessary.
Washington diplomatically recognizes Beijing over Taipei, but maintains de facto relations with Taiwan and supports the island's right to decide its future.
Earlier, China conducted many military exercises in the strait as it sought to punish Taiwan after Pelosi visited the self-ruled island against Beijing's threats.
China has sent many warships sailing in the Taiwan Strait and waters surrounding Taiwan since Pelosi's visit, as well as sending warplanes and firing long-range missiles. It views the island as part of its national territory and opposes any visits by foreign governments as recognizing Taiwan as its own state.
The US regularly sends its ships through the Taiwan Strait as part of what it calls freedom of navigation maneuvers.
The 100 mile-wide (160 kilometre-wide) strait divides Taiwan from China.
The statement came in response to comments from US Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell, who said on Friday that China "overreacted" to US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan.
The US military said it sent two Navy warships through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday as the Pentagon increases the frequency of movement through the strategic waterway despite opposition from China.
Taiwan’s export orders contracted for an eighth straight month in June, with global companies increasingly hesitant to make new investments in machinery as the China-US trade war wears on.
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