China criticizes Taiwan Strait transits by US Navy and F-35B “Lightning Carrier” USS Tripoli now in South China Sea

The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) transits the East China Sea during routine operations underway August 28. US Navy Photo

Two US warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday — the first since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) visited Taiwan, sparking heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing.

USS Antietam (CG-54) and USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) crossed the Taiwan Strait, according to a press release issued Saturday by the 7th Fleet. The Ticonderoga-class missile cruisers are both based in Yokosuka, Japan.

“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” read a statement from the U.S. 7th Fleet.
“The U.S. military flies, sails, and operates wherever international law permits.”

The People’s Liberation Army tracked the two cruisers during the transit, according to a statement released by China’s Foreign Ministry on Monday.

“The Eastern Theater Command conducted security tracking and surveillance of the passage of US warships throughout the route, and monitored all US warship movements,” the spokesperson said. Zhao Lijian.
“American warships often show flexibility in the name of exercising freedom of navigation. This is not about keeping the region free and open. This is a provocation aimed at “freedom of intrusion” and constitutes a deliberate sabotage of regional peace and stability.”

Meanwhile, the amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) is also in the South China Sea, with its fleet of F-35B Lightning II strike fighters on board as the Navy and Marine Corps test the “carrier” concept. lightning,'” according to Monday’s USNI Fleet News and Navy Tracker. The amphibious warfare ship departed San Diego, Calif., on its first deployment in May.

The cruiser’s transits were criticized in Chinese state-controlled media, which called the pair of cruisers “old” in a post. While the two warships, commissioned in the late 1980s, are older, Tripoli commissioned in 2020 and is in its first deployment.

Taiwan Strait transits were routine, according to the 7th Fleet press release. Both ships sailed in waters that the United States does not consider territorial seas.

Antietam was recently underway as part of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group.

Robert M. Larson