Guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-54) transited the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday drawing protests from Chinese military officials.
The transit occurred, “in accordance with international law,” according to a statement from U.S. 7th Fleet.
“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military will continue to fly, sail, and operate anywhere international law allows.”
U.S. warships have kept a steady drumbeat of monthly transits through the strait between Taiwan and mainland China. Curtis Wilbur’s transit is the fifth since the start of the Biden administration. USS John McCain (DDG-56) made the last transit on April 7 days after Chinese officials announced People’s Liberation Army Navy carrier Liaoning and its escorts would drill near the island.
A Chinese military spokesman said Tuesday’s transit was, “sending wrong signals to the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces, deliberately disrupting and sabotaging the regional situation and endangering peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
The spokesman said the destroyer was tracked by Chinese forces during the passage.
U.S. military leaders have warned that Beijing is intent on absorbing Taiwan within the next ten years.
“I worry that they’re accelerating their ambitions to supplant the United States and our leadership role in the rules-based international order, which they’ve long said that they want to do that by 2050. I’m worried about them moving that target closer,” recently retired Indo-Pacific commander Adm. Phil Davidson told the Senate in March. “Taiwan is clearly one of their ambitions before then. And I think the threat is manifest during this decade, in fact in the next six years.”
The following is the complete May 18 statement from U.S. 7th Fleet.
TAIWAN STRAIT –
The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit May 18 (local time) in accordance with international law. The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military will continue to fly, sail, and operate anywhere international law allows.