US warship sails through Taiwan Strait after Chinese officials canceled its Hong Kong port visit

Posted at 12:14 PM, Aug 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-23 12:14:47-04

The US Navy sailed a warship through the Taiwan Strait Friday, a move that comes amid heightened tensions with Beijing over trade.

A flock of birds flies in the vicinity of the USS Green Bay, an amphibious transport dock as it manoeuvrers off the Thai coast during an amphibian landing exercise in Chonburi on February 17, 2017 during the ten-day multi-nation Cobra Gold military exercise.
The annual joint ‘Cobra Gold’ military exercises kicked off as Asia grapples with uncertainty over the direction of US foreign policy under President Donald Trump. / AFP / ROBERTO SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)

“USS Green Bay (LPD 20) conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit Aug. 23 (local time) in accordance with international law,” Cdr. Reann Mommsen, a spokesperson for the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, said in a statement.

CNN reported earlier this month that the Chinese government had denied requests for port visits to Hong Kong by the USS Green Bay and USS Lake Erie.

The USS Green Bay, an amphibious transport dock ship, was scheduled to visit Hong Kong on August 17.

The canceled port visit was announced amid ongoing protests in Hong Kong, which Beijing has accused the US of supporting, a notion denied by both protesters and the US government.

“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” Mommsen said.

The US routinely sails through the Taiwan Strait, last doing so in July, but Chinese military forces view the strategic waterway separating China from Taiwan as a priority area and often shadow US vessels that sail through the area.

Friday’s transit comes amid heightened trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.

China announced on Friday a new round of retaliatory tariffson about $75 billion worth of US goods.

The Trump administration also recently approved a major arms sale to Taiwan, a move that was strongly protested by Beijing, which sees the democratic self-governing island as a renegade province.