What you need to know:
- China claims Taiwan as its territory -- vowing to take it one day, by force if necessary -- and has in recent years ramped up military and political pressure on the island
Taipei. US and Canadian warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Saturday, the navies of both countries said, in a joint mission through the sensitive waterway that separates democratic self-ruled Taiwan from China.
China claims Taiwan as its territory -- vowing to take it one day, by force if necessary -- and has in recent years ramped up military and political pressure on the island.
Last week, Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong led two other ships through the 180-kilometre-wide (112-mile-wide) Taiwan Strait, in a show of force after Beijing conducted aerial and naval exercises around Taiwan in April.
The US 7th Fleet announced Saturday that its destroyer USS Chung-Hoon and the Royal Canadian Navy's HMCS Montreal were "conducting a routine Taiwan Strait transit June 3 (local time) through waters where high-seas freedoms of navigation and overflight apply in accordance with international law".
"Chung-Hoon and Montreal's bilateral transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the commitment of the United States and our allies and partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific," the US Navy said.
US naval ships frequently sail through the strait, but it is rare for such a mission to be conducted alongside another country's ships.
The last time a joint US-Canada passage through the strait occurred was in September 2022.
Canada's military tweeted Saturday to confirm the passage, saying that the US and Canada are "partners (that) operate for peace and security in the region".
Saturday's passage occurred as US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu took part in a defence summit in Singapore.
The United States had invited Li to meet on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue, but the Pentagon said Beijing had declined.
A member of China's delegation told AFP that the removal of US sanctions on its minister was a precondition for talks.
Tensions between Washington and Beijing have soared this year over issues including Taiwan and an alleged Chinese spy balloon that was shot down by a US warplane after traversing the North American country.