USS Shiloh Transits Taiwan Strait a Week After Presidential Election

January 17, 2020 2:08 PM
The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG-67) patrols the waters South of Japan on May 22, 2017. US Navy photo.

Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG-67) transited the Taiwan Strait on Thursday, less than a week after voters on the island reelected a leader opposed to closer ties between Taipei and Beijing.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense announced the transit Friday, in a statement saying, “U.S. ships carried out general navigation missions through the Taiwan Strait, and the National Army used joint intelligence surveillance and investigation to master the relevant dynamics of the sea, airspace, and aircraft around us. There was no abnormality during this period. Please rest assured.”

Chinese government officials responded to the transit, stating they tracked the warship’s route, hinting they were not pleased with the message being sent by the U.S. Navy.

“China paid close attention to and monitored from start to end the passage of the U.S. military vessel through the Taiwan Strait. The Taiwan question is the most important and most sensitive issue in China-US relations as it bears on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We urge the US to abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiques, prudently handle issues relating to Taiwan to avoid harming China-US relations and affecting peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” Geng Shuang, the spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said during a Friday media briefing, according to the ministry’s official English translation.

Neither Taiwan nor China named the ship. Several media accounts stated Shiloh was the warship that conducted the passage through the 110-miles wide body of water separating Taiwan from the mainland.

Bloomberg first posted a story about Shiloh’s transit Thursday night. U.S. Navy officials were contacted by USNI News but did not immediately provide a statement.

During her reelection campaign, President Tsai Ing-wen stated she intended to maintain the status quo with China. Tsai and party, though, are and have consistently stated Taiwan is independent of China.

On Dec. 26, two weeks before the election in Taiwan, China sailed its own message past the island. The People’s Liberation Army Navy’s new aircraft carrier Shandong steamed through the Taiwan Strait the same say Shiloh transited Thursday.

The U.S. relationship with Taiwan is complicated. Since 1979, the U.S. has “recognized the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, acknowledging the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China,” according to the U.S. State Department.

While the U.S. does not support Taiwan becoming an independent nation, the U.S. government maintains a strong “unofficial relations” with Taiwan, according to the State Department.

The U.S. routinely sends warships through the strait. A U.S. aircraft carrier hasn’t transited the strait in more than a decade.

In the days following her reelection, Tsai sent tweets to several world leaders and politicians that have supported Taiwan. To U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Tsai sent the following tweet, “Taiwan is & will ever be great friends of the US. We are grateful for the actions you’ve taken to protect free markets, democracy & freedom around the world. Taiwan stands with you & we will be that bastion of freedom in the Indo-Pacific.”

Ben Werner

Ben Werner

Ben Werner is a staff writer for USNI News. He has worked as a freelance writer in Busan, South Korea, and as a staff writer covering education and publicly traded companies for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., Savannah Morning News in Savannah, Ga., and Baltimore Business Journal. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree from New York University.

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