TAIPEI, Taiwan – A pair of U.S. warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait over the weekend, Taiwan's defense ministry said Monday, in a move likely to spark protest from Beijing.
The ministry said the ships made the passage on Sunday, sailing from south to north through the waterway that divides the self-governing island from mainland China.
Beijing frequently objects to the movement of foreign military vessels in the strait based on its claim to Taiwan as its own territory to be annexed by force if necessary.
In the statement, Taiwan's defense ministry said U.S. ships were free to sail through the Taiwan Strait as part of their "strategic Indo-Pacific tasks." Despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties, Taiwan is a key U.S. ally and provider of defensive weapons.
China has been increasingly willing to protest actions by foreign militaries in areas it considers its home waters or sphere of influence. That especially applies to the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea, which China claims almost in its entirety.
Last week, Beijing complained to France after a French warship entered Chinese territorial waters while traversing the Taiwan Strait, and blamed British naval activity in the South China Sea for a downturn in bilateral relations.