US destroyers sail through Taiwan Strait

Washington, Jul 8 (IANS): Two US Navy destroyers sailed through the Taiwan Strait, a move that could further heighten tensions between Washington and Beijing, according to a top official.

The warships, the USS Mustin and USS Benfold, headed north, the US Navy official told CNN, and are the first American warships to pass through the strait since July 2017, when the USS John S. McCain made the transit.

Pacific Fleet spokesman Capt. Charlie Brown called the passage of the ships "a routine transit".

"US Navy ships transit between the South China Sea and East China Sea via the Taiwan Strait, and have done so for many years," Brown said.

China is perceived as sensitive to US military vessels travelling through the strait and continues to lay claim to Taiwan.

The US Navy has not sailed an aircraft carrier in that area since 2007.

China has boosted its own military presence in the region, sailing its own aircraft carrier through the strait in January, reports CNN.

China and Taiwan have been governed separately since the end of the Chinese Civil War nearly 70 years ago.

President Donald Trump made headlines when he became the first American president-elect to accept a congratulatory phone call from his Taiwanese counterpart Tsai Ing-wen.