U.S., Canadian warships carry out Taiwan Strait transit

(Reuters) -A U.S. Navy warship and a Canadian frigate carried out a routine transit of the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday, the U.S. military said, an operation which comes amid heightened military tensions between Beijing and Taipei.

In recent years, U.S. warships, and on occasion those from allied nations such as Britain and Canada, have routinely sailed through the strait, drawing the ire of China, which claims Taiwan over the objections of the island's democratically elected government.

In a statement, the U.S. Navy said its Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Higgins and the Royal Canadian Navy's Halifax-class frigate Vancouver conducted the transit through a corridor in the strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal state.

"Cooperation like this represents the centerpiece of our approach to a secure and prosperous region," the Navy statement added.

Canada's Defence Minister Anita Anand said that her country, as a Pacific nation, was deeply committed to upholding global stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

"Today's routine Taiwan Strait transit demonstrates our commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific," she said in a statement.

Taiwan's defense ministry said the ships sailed in northerly direction through the waterway and that its forces observed the mission but that "the situation was as normal".

It was the second transit of the strait in a month by a U.S. Navy ship.

A visit to Taiwan by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi in early August enraged China, which regards the island as its territory.

China subsequently launched military drills near the island, which have continued though on a much reduced scale.

The narrow Taiwan Strait has been a frequent source of military tension since the defeated Republic of China government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war with the communists, who established the People's Republic of China.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali; additional reporting by Michael Martina, Ben Blanchard and Steve Scherer; editing by Jonathan Oatis & Shri Navaratnam)