05:28 GMT17 January 2021
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    Relations between Washington and Beijing have remained strained due to their bilateral trade dispute and continuing US naval operations in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.

    Arleigh Burke-class destroyer the USS Stethem and Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ship the USNS Cesar Chavez have recently sailed through the Taiwan Strait, the US Pacific Fleet's press service reported on 25 February. According to the service, the move was carried out to guarantee freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific region.

    "The ships' transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific", the official statement said.

    The spokesperson for the Pacific Fleet noted that the move was done in accordance with international law.

    The passage of US warships takes place amid ongoing tensions between Washington and Beijing. The two are currently engaged in the process of negotiating a trade deal, while the US Navy is continuing to conduct freedom of navigation operations in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, which Beijing condemns as provocations.

    READ MORE: Expect China to Invade Taiwan, Okinawa in Near Future — Retired Japanese General

    The strait divides Taiwan from mainland China. Beijing considers Taiwan to be part of a united China. Relations between the two were cut in 1949 after the remnants of Chiang Kai-shek's forces fled to the island following their defeat on the mainland. Relations were partially restored in the 1980s.


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