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US Warships Sail Through Taiwan Strait

Taiwan Navy sailors stand in attention during the commissioning ceremony of two U.S.-made Kidd class destroyers, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2006, at the naval harbor or Suao, northeast Taiwan.

Two U.S. warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait Monday.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning told reporters that the USS Curtis Wilbur and the USS Antietam conducted what he described as a "routine transit" to demonstrate the United States; commitment to "a free and open Indo-Pacific."

The U.S. Navy conducted a similar "freedom of navigation" exercise through the expansive waterway that separate China and Taiwan back in July.

Monday's exercise took place amid China's increasing pressure on Taiwan in recent months. It broke off relations with the self-ruled island in 2016 when President Tsai Ing-wen, the leader of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, took office in 2016 and refused to accept Beijing's "One China" principle that Taiwan belongs under the mainland's rule. It has carried out numerous military exercises in the Taiwan Strait, and persuaded several nations to switch diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China.

The two sides split after the 1949 civil war, when Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist forces sought refuge on Taiwan after being driven off the mainland by Mao Zedong's Communists.