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Asia Minute: US Military Continues Regional Routines

China US Taiwan strait coast guard military navy
U.S. Coast Guard
In this photo provided by U.S. Coast Guard, Legend-class U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter Munro (WMSL 755) transits the Taiwan Strait during a routine transit with Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100) on Aug. 27, 2021. China's defense ministry protested Saturday the passage of a U.S. Navy warship and Coast Guard cutter through the waters between China and Taiwan, a self-governing island claimed by China. (U.S. Coast Guard via AP)

A focus remains this week on the evacuation of U.S. citizens and Afghan allies from Kabul. And while U.S. military forces lead that operation, they also remain active in the Asia Pacific, with routine movements and exercises that generally don’t get as much attention.

A U.S. warship and Coast Guard cutter sailed through the Taiwan Strait Friday — just another routine trip that’s part of normal operations for the U.S. Navy.

This one took place shortly after the Chinese Navy finished a round of military exercises in the South China Sea.

The U.S. Navy noted in a familiar sounding statement that its “lawful transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. Commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military flies, sails and operates anywhere international law allows.”

These days, that includes the Taiwan Strait about once a month — eight times so far this year, to be exact.

Responses from the Chinese government usually follow. In April, a spokesperson said the passage “disrupted the regional situation by endangering peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

In June, it said the transit showed “that the United States is the greatest creator of risks for regional security.”

Another military routine: exercises with allies.

Late last week, U.S. and South Korean forces wrapped up joint training with no immediate comment from North Korea.

The Pyongyang government had previously called the scaled-back drills a “provocation.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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