U.S. Navy Warship Sails Through Taiwan Strait for First Time Under Biden

The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain sailed through the channel, which divides China and Taiwan on Thursday. / Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Markus Castaneda

A U.S. Navy warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Thursday, for the first time since President Joe Biden took power.

The USS John S. McCain, a guided-missile destroyer based in Japan, conducted a routine journey through the channel, which divides China and Taiwan, complying with international law, Lt. Joe Keiley, a spokesperson for the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet, said in statement.

The ship’s transit demonstrated the U.S. “commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he said, adding that the military would “continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”

Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told a media briefing that his country had been “closely” monitoring the warship.

“China will continue to maintain a high level of alert at all times, respond to all threats and provocations at all times, and resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said. “It is hoped that the U.S. will play a constructive role for regional peace and stability, not the other way around.”

The journey comes ahead of Biden’s highly anticipated foreign policy address at the Department of State later Thursday, in which he is expected to outline his vision for global challenges.

Tensions between the United States and China ramped up under the Trump administration, which increased support for Taiwan through arms sales and visits by senior U.S. officials. They were already heightened by disagreements over the South China SeaHong Kong, the coronavirus and trade.

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SOURCE: NBC News, Yasmine Salam