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USS MUSTIN

Two U.S. Navy ships sailed through the Taiwan Strait Saturday, a move that comes amid increasing tension between the Trump administration and China over trade.

On Friday, the United States imposed $34 billion in tariffs on Chinese products and Beijing hit back with its own fiscal punishment and slammed the Trump administration for igniting "the biggest trade war in economic history."

The move also is considered sensitive because of China's claims over Taiwan, which it views as a breakaway province.

Capt. Charlie Brown, Pacific Fleet spokesman, said sailing through the body of water separating China and Taiwan is routine for the U.S. Navy.

"U.S. Navy ships transit between the South China Sea and East China Sea via the Taiwan Strait, and have done so for many years," Brown said.

The last American warship to transit through the Strait was the USS John S. McCain in July, 2017. The last U.S. Navy aircraft carrier to sail the area was in 2007.

Word of the transit was first made public by a statement from Taiwan's Defense Ministry.

A U.S. official confirmed the two ships were the USS Mustin and USS Benfold.

The U.S. and China also have tensions over China's growing military presence on man-made islands in the South China Sea, a place near where U.S. Navy continues to carry out freedom of navigation passages.

U.S. support for Taiwan is evident, as the Unites States continues to sell it military weapons even though it does not have diplomatic relations with the province.

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