The U.S. 7th Fleet’s Arleight Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur on Tuesday conducted a routine transit of the Taiwan Strait, a move that can irritate Beijing anew.
The routine trip was done to show “U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows,” the statement said.
The Taiwan Strait is part of the South China Sea, a contested area bordered by China, Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam, which is a passageway for much of China’s trade, and observers have noticed China’s claims on the area leading to increased military presence there.
Earlier this month, Wilbur joined Royal Australian Navy frigate for exercises in the South China Sea.
The Wilbur and the RAN Anzac-class frigate HMAS Ballarat spent a week of “cooperative operations with maneuvering drills and a replenishment at-sea with USNS Big Horn” a U.S. Navy statement said at the time.
The trip also follows the U.S. Navy disputing a claim after another routine transit of the Taiwan Strait last month that Chinese forces “expelled” Wilbur from the Taiwan Strait.
The Navy called the People’s Liberation Army’s claim “false,” and said the trip complied with international law.