WASHINGTON – Activity by the U.S. Navy in its campaign to challenge China’s efforts to restrict transit in the South China Sea and in the Taiwan Strait increased sharply over the past two years.
According to U.S. Navy data, war ships maneuvered close to artificial islands claimed and developed by China 10 times in 2019 and another 10 times last year, at least double the annual number going back to 2014. And Navy ships sailed through the Taiwan Strait 13 times in 2020, the highest number of transits in at least 14 years.
The increase in naval activity reflected the strident Trump administration views on China and the Pentagon’s escalating efforts to counter Beijing’s ongoing military expansion, which the U.S. believes is eroding its competitive edge. The naval transits also are one of the more visible ways that the U.S. military can confront Chinese claims without any actual conflict….