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    Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Walter S. Diehl (T-AO 193) pulls alongside hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) to deliver supplies and mail by a connected replenishment in the South China Sea August 15, 2016

    Two US Military Ships Transit Taiwan Strait on Wednesday - Report

    © REUTERS / U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Brittney Vella
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    The US military said it sent two Navy ships through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, Reuters reported citing a US military spokesman.

    The transit was carried out by the destroyer Preble and the Navy oil tanker Walter S. Diehl, according to Reuters report. 

    "The ships' transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific," Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the US Navy's Seventh Fleet, said in a statement as cited by Reuters.

    The voyage was reportedly viewed by self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support from the Trump administration amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing, Reuters reported.

    Doss said all interactions were safe and professional, according to Reuters.  

    There was no immediate comment from China.    

    In April the US reportedly sent the naval destroyers William P. Lawrence and Stethem through the Taiwan Strait to demonstrate their commitment to freedom of navigation operations in the region.     

    Before that — in March — the naval destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur and the Coast Guard cutter Bertholf reportedly transited the Taiwan Strait in the frameworks of freedom of navigation operation.

    The US Navy continues to conduct freedom of navigation operations in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, which Chinese authorities consider a provocation.

    READ MORE: US Navy Sails Ships Through Taiwan Strait for Third Time in Three Months

    Mainland China has repeatedly called on the US to steer clear of the 110-mile-wide strait over concerns of military support being given to Taiwan. Although the island has been a self-governing nation since 1949, China has continually looked upon Taiwan as a wayward province needing to be brought back into the fold.   

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

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    Taiwan Strait, transit, freedom of navigation, Clay Doss, China, Taiwan, United States
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