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China on ‘high alert' after US Navy's rare two-cruiser Taiwan Strait transit

The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54), seen here in a file image, is one of two ships that transited the Taiwan Strait on 28 August. (US Navy)

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) remains on high alert and it stands “ready to thwart any provocation”, a military spokesperson said on 28 August after the US Navy's (USN's) latest transit through the Taiwan Strait.

The statement was issued hours after two USN ballistic missile defence (BMD)-capable Ticonderoga-class cruisers, USS Antietam (CG 54) and USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), sailed through the waterway. Previous transits by the USN have typically involved a single warship, and often an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer.

In its statement on the same day, the USN has described its warships' transit as routine and being done through waters where high seas' freedoms of navigation and overflight apply in accordance with international law”.

“These ships transited through a corridor in the strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal state. The ship's transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States' commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows,” reads the statement issued by the US Seventh Fleet public affairs office.

In response to this, Senior Colonel Shi Yi, the spokesperson of the PLA Eastern Theatre Command, said that the service conducted “security tracking and monitoring” of the US warships' transit while it was in the Taiwan Strait and “had all movements of the two US warships under control”. His comments were carried on the website of the PLA-sponsored news outlet, China Military .

Antietam and Chancellorsville

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