A United States and a Canadian warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait late last week, the American military said on Sunday Oct 17, at a time of heightened tension between Beijing and Taipei that has sparked concern internationally.
China regards self-ruled Taiwan as a renegade province awaiting reunification with the mainland, by force if necessary. Beijing has mounted repeated air force missions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) over the past year or more, provoking anger in Taipei.
China sent around 150 aircraft into the zone over a four-day period beginning on Oct 1.
The US military said the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Dewey sailed through the narrow waterway that separates Taiwan from its giant neighbour China along with the Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg on Thursday and Friday.
"Dewey’s and Winnipeg’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the commitment of the United States and our allies and partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” it added.
China’s military on Sunday condemned the US and Canada for sending warships through the Taiwan Strait last week, saying their actions seriously jeopardised peace and stability.
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Chinese forces monitored the ships and “stood guard” throughout their sailing, the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command said in a statement.
American Navy ships have been transiting the strait roughly monthly, to the anger of Beijing, which has accused Washington of stoking regional tensions. US allies occasionally also send ships through the strait, including a British warship last month.
While tensions across the Taiwan Strait have risen, there has been no shooting and Chinese aircraft have not entered Taiwanese air space, concentrating their activity in the south-western part of the ADIZ.
While including Taiwanese territorial air space, the ADIZ encompasses a broader area that Taiwan monitors and patrols that acts to give it more time to respond to any threats.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Sunday that three Chinese aircraft – two J-16 fighters and an anti-submarine aircraft - flew into the ADIZ again.