June 5 (UPI) -- The Navy destroyer USS Russell completed a transit of the Taiwan Strait, the waterway between China and Taiwan, on Thursday and Friday, officials said.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer made the voyage days after China's newest aircraft carrier, Shangdong, left the area and sailed northward for sea trials in the Yellow Sea.
"Russell conducted a Taiwan Strait transit June 4 to 5 [local time] in accordance with international law," said Cmdr. Reann Mommsen,U.S. 7th Fleet spokesperson, told USNI.
"The ship's transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows," Mommsen said.
The USS McCampbell, also a guided missile destroyer, made a similar trip through the strait on May 13. The Navy's increased presence in the region is meant as a signal that the United States is committed to free and open waterways.
China has pressed sovereignty claims in the nearby South China Sea, and has long regarded Taiwan as a breakaway province to eventually be turned to governance by Beijing.
Although the United States never officially supported the concept of Taiwan as a nation, the U.S. State Department has cited a strong bond and "unofficial relations" with Taiwan.