The US Navy said today that a Canadian and a US warship sailed together through the Taiwan Strait, a rare joint operation in the contentious waterway amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan, which China claims as its own.

The 7th Fleet of the US Navy said in a statement that the guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon and Canada’s HMCS Montreal made a “routine” passage of the strait “through waters where international law allows for high-seas freedoms of navigation and overflight”.

It said that the bilateral transit of the Taiwan Strait by Chung-Hoon and Montreal showed the commitment of the United States and its allies and partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The mission occurred as the defence chiefs of the US and China were attending a major regional security summit in Singapore.

At that event, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin criticised China for refusing to hold military talks, leaving the superpowers at an impasse over Taiwan and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

China’s military, which usually condemns such sailings as a US attempt to create tensions, did not immediately respond to the sailing.

The last such publicly disclosed US-Canadian operation in the narrow strait happened in September.

China has been increasing military and political pressure to try to force Taiwan to accept Beijing’s sovereignty claims, which the Taipei government strongly rejects.

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