US, Canada sail warships through the Taiwan Strait in a challenge to China

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — The U.S. and the Canadian navies sailed two warships through the Taiwan Strait on Saturday, in a challenge to China's sweeping territorial claims.

The USS Ralph Johnson and the Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-class frigate HMCS Ottawa sailed through the narrow band of ocean that separates China and self-ruled Taiwan, according to the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet. Beijing claims Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunited by force if necessary, and views transits by the U.S. Navy and its allies as provocative actions.

The cruisers “transited through a corridor in the Strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal state,” the Navy statement said.

The U.S. routinely sails through the strait in what it calls “freedom of navigation” operations.

China has stepped up its military activities around Taiwan, including sending warships and warplanes on a near daily basis.

In June, the U.S. released a video in which a Chinese navy ship cut sharply across the path of an American destroyer, forcing the U.S. vessel to slow to avoid a collision. The U.S. ship also was conducting a transit with a Canadian vessel.

China said it tracked both ships throughout their entire transit and its forces "dealt with the situation according to law and regulation,” said Senior Col. Shi Yi, spokesperson for the People Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command in a statement.