The US cruiser passed the Taiwan Strait

The US cruiser Port Royal passed through the Taiwan Strait after the US Navy and Air Force maneuvered around the island.

“The passage of the Port Royal through the Strait of Taiwan demonstrates US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The US military will move at sea and in the air and operate everywhere. International law allows it,” the US Navy’s 7th Fleet said in a statement May 10 as the cruiser USS Port Royal passed the Taiwan Strait.

This is the second time a US warship has crossed the Taiwan Strait in the past two weeks. Earlier on April 26, the destroyer USS Sampson had passed the Taiwan Strait and the US 7th Fleet announced that this was a routine operation.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said May 10 that two passages through the Taiwan Strait by a US warship were not a sign that the country was stepping up naval activities near China.

China has not commented on the move of the cruiser Port Royal. Beijing has repeatedly criticized similar activities by the US warship, calling it “a provocative act that sends the wrong signal to Taiwan independence forces and willfully undermines peace and stability” in the region.

The US cruiser USS Port Royal passed the Taiwan Strait on May 10.  Photo: US Navy.

The US cruiser USS Port Royal passed the Taiwan Strait on May 10. Picture: US Navy.

The cruiser Port Royal passed through the Taiwan Strait days after China held May 6-8 air and sea drills around the island. 18 Chinese military planes, divided into three groups, entered Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on May 6, prompting the island’s Self-Defense Forces to dispatch fighter jets to respond and deploy anti-aircraft missiles.

China has always viewed Taiwan as a province awaiting reunification and has declared its willingness to use force if necessary. The Chinese military conducts many drills with advanced weaponry across Taiwan. China’s Defense Minister Wei Fenghe warned that China’s relationship with the US “will break down if the Taiwan issue is not properly managed.”

The US is committed to adhering to the “One China” principle, but continues to maintain relations with Taiwan and supply the island with modern weapons. A group of US senators, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, visited the island of Taiwan on April 13. The Chinese side then warned the US not to “play with fire”.

The island of Taiwan and the strait of the same name.  Graphics: CSIS.

The island of Taiwan and the strait of the same name. Graphic: CSIS.

Nguyen Tien (Corresponding USNI)