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U.S. warship in Taiwan Strait as trade talks set to resume with China

The US Navy's guided missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG-54) is seen docked at a port in Manila on March 14, 2016.
The U.S. Navy's guided missile cruiser USS Antietam. Photo: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. Navy sailed a warship through the Taiwan Strait that separates Taiwan from China Wednesday, Reuters reports — hours after China warned it hadn't ruled out using force to reunify the island nation with the mainland.

Why it matters: Taiwan is one of several flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, and this incident comes as American and Chinese officials are due to restart trade talks, per Bloomberg. The State Department notified Congress this month that it has approved a $2.2 billion arms sale to the self-ruled Taiwan — which China regards as a breakaway province.

The big picture: The U.S. Navy has sent ships to the Taiwan Strait several times in recent months. China warned against foreign interference in the region in a defense white paper earlier Wednesday.

  • U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are due to travel to China Monday for the first high-level, in-person negotiations between American and Chinese officials since since talks stalled in May, Bloomberg notes.

What they're saying: Taiwan said Thursday, after the guided missile cruiser the USS Antietam had sailed through the strait that the U.S. Navy is free to take such action, per AP.

  • A spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet told AP the voyage was conducted "in accordance with international law."

Go deeper: U.S.-China trade war to blame for the continuing global slowdown