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Pentagon sends U.S. ships to Taiwan Strait, risking the ire of China

The Navy Curtis Wilbur destroyer is 1 of 2 U.S. ships in the Taiwan Strait.
The USS Curtis Wilbur is sailing through the Taiwan Strait. File photo: Ted Banks/US Navy/Getty Images

The Pentagon sent two ships through the Taiwan Strait Sunday, as the Trump administration steps up naval activities in the region — despite opposition from China.

QuoteThe ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The U.S. will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows."
— U.S. military statement

Why it matters: China regards the self-ruled Taiwan as a breakaway province and the USS Curtis Wilbur and U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bertholf ships' passage through the strait that divides Taiwan from the Chinese mainland comes as Washington holds key trade talks with Beijing.

The backdrop: It's the 5th time in 6 months that United States warships have made the voyage, according to Stars and Stripes . The action could be seen as a show of support for Taiwan. China has previously expressed anger at such moves. In March, 2018, the U.S. signed the Taiwan Travel Act, encouraging "visits between officials of the United States and Taiwan at all levels," and sent 2 senior officials to the island nation.