Two US Warships in Taiwan Strait as Washington Pushes Back on Beijing with Show of Force

Amid signs that the US-China tensions remain escalated over the visit of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island, American warships are reportedly sailing through international waters in the Taiwan Strait.

Reuters reported exclusively that two US Navy warships are sailing in the Taiwan Strait. This is the first voyage undertaken by US vessels in the region after tensions escalated following the visit of Nancy Pelosi to Taipei earlier this month, three US officials told the agency.

US warship
The USS Mason (DDG 87), a guided missile destroyer, arrives at Port Canaveral, Florida, April 4, 2003. Reuters

Show of Strength

According to the report, US Navy cruisers Chancellorsville and Antietam were carrying out the Taiwan Strait operation.

The presence of the warships of the US or its allies predictably rankles nerves in Beijing. Pelosi's visit marked the lowest point in China-US relations in recent times. China had issued a stern warning against the visit but the US ignored it and went ahead with the itinerary.

The visit infuriated China so much so that Beijing sent dozens of warplanes into Taiwan's air defense zone moments after Pelosi flew out of the country after the visit. According to reports, at least 27 Chinese fighter jets including 16 Russian-made Su-30 jets entered Taiwan's airspace, prompting the country to take defensive measures.

Beijing claims democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory. Routine military drills around the island are a means for Beijing to express its Taiwan stance and push back against the US and its allies that support Taipei.

Tsai Ing-wen Pelosi
Nancy Pelosi met Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday Twitter

Day safter Pelosis's visit, a delegation of US lawmakers arrived in Taiwan for a two-day trip, as both the sides raised their stakes.

'Renegade Province'

China considers self-ruling Taiwan as a renegade province and hasn't abandoned the possibility of using force to annex the island. The power balance tilted in Beijing's favour back in the early 1970s when the United States recognized the People's Republic of China and started diplomatic relations with Beijing. According to Beijing, the island's reunification with the mainland is a primary need. China insists that it is the only large nation in the world that is yet to be completely reunified.

In early August, the Chinese Army, the Navy and Air Force conducted joint military operations, with more than 10 destroyers and frigates conducting joint blockades, alert patrols and reconnaissance. More than a hundred warplanes including fighter jets and bombers conducted joint reconnaissance, air assault and support missions around Taiwan island.