Shi described the transit as “publicly hyped”, adding: “Troops in the theater remain on high alert at all times and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and security as well as regional peace and stability.”
The US Navy’s 7th Fleet said:[The warships] conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit November 1 through waters where high-seas freedoms of navigation and overflight apply in accordance with international law.”
Lieutenant Luka Bakic, a spokesman for the fleet, said the ships had passed through a corridor that was beyond the territorial sea of any coastal state.
“The transit was unremarkable, unprovocative and consistent with international law,” he said, adding the operation “demonstrates the commitment of the United States and our allies and partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
He continued: “Cooperation like this represents the centerpiece of our approach to a secure and prosperous region where aircraft and ships of all nations may fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”
Taiwan’s defense ministry confirmed the transit, saying its navy had been monitoring the ships’ passage adding that “the situation was normal”.
The US and Canadian navies have carried out similar joint transits on several occasions over the past two years – most recently in September – as tensions rise in both the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea.
Beijing, which sees Taiwan as part of its territory that must be taken under its control, by force if necessary, is particularly upset with the United States over its informal alliance with the island.
The United States and Canada, in common with most countries, do not recognize Taiwan as an independent state but are opposed to any unilateral change of the cross-strait status quo by force.
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Wednesday’s transit came as the PLA aircraft carrier the Shandong was taking part in a joint sea-air drill in waters off Taiwan’s southeastern contiguous zone – which extends 24 nautical miles (44.4km) from the island’s coast.
The exercise, which started on Thursday last week, involved fighter jets, bombers and drones, as well as submarine hunting and surveillance aircraft.
On Thursday, the Taiwanese military detected 13 PLA warplanes and eight warships around the island, with five of the aircraft entering Taiwan’s southwest air defense identification zone. The previous day 43 PLA aircraft and seven ships were detected in the area.