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US Warship Again Sails Through Sensitive Taiwan Strait

This US Navy photo obtained Oct. 23, 2018 shows the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur as it participates in a close quarters maneuvering exercise on Feb. 28, 2018 in the Philippine Sea.

A U.S. warship has again sailed through the sensitive waterway that separates Taiwan from its giant neighbor China, at a time of increased tensions between Taipei and Beijing.

The U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet said the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur conducted a "routine Taiwan Strait transit" on Tuesday in accordance with international law.

"The ship's transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military will continue to fly, sail, and operate anywhere international law allows," it said.

Taiwan's Defense Ministry said the ship had sailed in a southerly direction through the strait and the "situation was as normal."

The U.S. Navy has been conducting such operations every month or so, to the anger of China which always denounces them.

The United States, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but is its most important international backer and a major seller of arms.

Military tension between Chinese-claimed Taiwan and Beijing have spiked over the past year, with Taipei complaining of China repeatedly sending its air force into Taiwan's air defense zone.

Some of those activities can involve multiple fighters and bombers.

China has said its activities around Taiwan are aimed at protecting China's sovereignty. Taiwan's government has denounced it as attempts at intimidation.