The United States is considering sending a warship through the Taiwan Strait, US officials say, in a move that could provoke a sharp reaction from Beijing at a time when Sino-US ties are under pressure from trade disputes and the North Korean nuclear crisis.
A US warship passage, should it happen, could be seen in Taiwan as a fresh sign of support by President Donald Trump after a series of mainland Chinese military drills around the self-ruled island. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory.
US officials told Reuters that the United States had already examined plans for an aircraft carrier passage once this year, but ultimately did not pursue them, perhaps because of concerns about upsetting China.
The last time a US aircraft carrier transited the Taiwan Strait was in 2007, during the administration of George W. Bush, and some US military officials believe a carrier transit is overdue.
Another, less provocative option would be resuming the periodic, but still infrequent, passages by other US Navy ships through the Strait, the last of which was in July 2017.
The Pentagon declined to comment on any potential future operations and it was unclear how soon a passage might take place.