U.S. Navy officials said Monday that warships would continue sailing through the Taiwan Strait in the coming days despite the Chinese Communist Party conducting several missile exercises around the island after the recent visit from U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The U.S. Naval Institute reports that the military would conduct “freedom of navigation operations” in the Indo-Pacific waters. Such visits recognize international law, allowing vessels to pass through foreign states safely.
“We will continue to stand by our allies and partners,” Colin Kahl, undersecretary of defense for policy, told reporters at a press conference Monday. “So even as China tries to kind of chip away at the status quo, our policy is to maintain the status quo of a free and open Indo-Pacific, which frankly is what I think most of the countries in the region would prefer.”
“Our policy hasn’t changed,” Kahl said. “We have a One China policy,” adding the U.S. has a commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taiwan with capabilities to defend itself, which includes the U.S. having capabilities “to preclude the use of violence to force a change in the status quo across the Strait.”
China’s communist officials view the self-governed democratic island as its territory and have said they would take it by force if necessary.
Taiwan, where 23 million people call home just 80 miles off the coast of China, has faced a series of drills after Pelosi’s trip caused tension between Beijing and Washington. China opposed the visit from the Speaker of the House and has continued flexing its military power through drills, sending several warships near the country.
Taiwan officials condemned the “irrational action that has jeopardized regional peace.”
Yet Kahl said Pelosi’s visit hasn’t changed “one iota” of the U.S. government’s policy toward China or Taiwan.
“Legislatures from around the world go to Taiwan,” Kahl said. “Our Congress is an independent body of our government.”
“Clearly the PRC is trying to coerce Taiwan,” he said. “Clearly, they’re trying to coerce the international community, and all I’ll say is we’re not going to take the bait and it’s not going to work.”
“So it’s a manufactured crisis. That doesn’t mean we have to play into that,” Kahl added.
Currently, the military has stationed the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group and the USS Tripoli assault ship in the Philippine Sea, according to USNI News’ Fleet Tracker.