US forces defy China as ships sail in support of Taiwan
Two United States Navy ships have sailed through the Taiwan Strait in the third such operation this year, as the US military increases the frequency of transits through the strategic waterway despite opposition from China.
The voyage risks further raising America's tensions with China but will likely be viewed in self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support from President Donald Trump's government amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing.
"The ships' transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific," the American Pacific Fleet said in a statement.
"The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows."
It said the passage was carried out by the destroyer USS Stockdale and the Pecos, a replenishment vessel.
Taiwan's defence ministry said it was a normal transit through international waters in the Taiwan Strait and Taiwan forces had monitored the passage of the ships.
China's foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing had expressed its concern over the passage to the United States.
"We urge the United States to cautiously and appropriately handle the Taiwan issue, avoid damaging the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait and China-US relations," he said.
China's defence spokesman Ren Guoqiang said their military was fully aware of the action.
"The Taiwan issue is a matter of China's sovereignty and territorial integrity," Mr Ren said.
"The will and determination of the Chinese military to protect our sovereignty and territorial integrity is unswerving."