March 25 (UPI) -- Two U.S. warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait late Sunday into Monday.
U.S. officials contend that the 100-mile-wide strait between Taiwan and mainland China is an international waterway. The USS Curtis Wilbur and U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bertholf went through "in accordance with international law," Seventh Fleet spokesman Lt. Joe Keiley said. The Bertholf recently finished a mission enforcing United Nations sanctions against North Korea.
"The ships' transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific," Keiley said. "The U.S. will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows."
It was the fifth time in six months that U.S. warships have gone through the disputed waterway. China protests such moves when done without its permission.
This week, U.S. officials will travel to China to negotiate a long-awaited trade deal.
Adm. John Richardson, chief of U.S. Navy operations, said the United States is committed to a One China policy that acknowledges Taiwan as part of the country. The United States does have formal relations with Taiwan.
The Trump administration has hinted that the United States could sell additional weapons to Taiwan, including more than 100 Abrams tanks.