BY NICOLE HAO February 4, 2021 Updated: February 4, 2021
A U.S. warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Feb. 4, marking the first such operation during the Biden administration.
The USS McCain, a guided-missile destroyer, made a routine transit in the narrow waterway between Taiwan and China in accordance with international law, the U.S. Seventh Fleet said in a statement.
“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” it said.
The maneuver came as the Chinese regime escalated its rhetoric and military pressure toward Taiwan in the days after President Joe Biden took office.
On the first weekend of Biden’s presidency, China made its largest-scale military incursions into the island’s air defense zone—13 military aircraft flew over Taiwan’s southwest waters on Jan. 23, and another 15 military aircraft made a similar incursion the next day.
The United States, in response, criticized Beijing’s military activities and reaffirmed its commitment to Taiwan, which it described as “rock solid.”
The United States, like most countries, has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but is the island’s most important international backer and supplier of weapons.
Chinese aircraft incursions near Taiwan have since been seen almost on a daily basis for the past few months, according to the island’s defense ministry.
The Chinese regime considers Taiwan a part of its territory, even though the island has been governed as a distinct entity for more than seven decades.
Beijing has also vowed to retake Taiwan by military force if necessary. It views U.S. military transits of the Taiwan Strait as provocations, despite the waterway being deemed as open to all countries for transit under international law.
The last U.S. transit occurred on New Year’s Eve when the McCain and a second destroyer, the USS Curtis Wilbur, went through the strait, according to U.S. Navy statements.
China sharpens language, warns Taiwan that independence ‘means war’
By Reuters Staff
3 MIN READ
BEIJING (Reuters) – China toughened its language towards Taiwan on Thursday, warning after recent stepped up military activities near the island that “independence means war” and that its armed forces were acting in response to provocation and foreign interference.
Taiwan, claimed by China as its own territory, reported multiple Chinese fighter jets and bombers entering its southwestern air defence identification zone last weekend, prompting Washington to urge Beijing to stop pressuring Taiwan.
China believes that Taiwan’s democratically-elected government is moving the island towards a declaration of formal independence, though Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has repeatedly said it is already an independent country called the Republic of China, its formal name.
Asked at a monthly news briefing about the air force’s recent activities, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said Taiwan is an inseparable part of China.
“The military activities carried out by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in the Taiwan Strait are necessary actions to address the current security situation in the Taiwan Strait and to safeguard national sovereignty and security,” he said.
“They are a solemn response to external interference and provocations by ‘Taiwan independence’ forces,” he added.
Wu said a “handful” of people in Taiwan were seeking the island’s independence.
“We warn those ‘Taiwan independence’ elements: those who play with fire will burn themselves, and ‘Taiwan independence’ means war,” he added.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said China should think carefully and not underestimate the island’s determination to defend its sovereignty and uphold freedom and democracy.
The Chinese incursions coincided with a U.S. carrier battle group entering the disputed South China Sea to promote “freedom of the seas”.
Reporting by Tony Munroe and Yew Lun Tian, writing and additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Editing by Himani Sarkar, William Maclean
BY JOSEPH CHOI – 01/25/21 08:57 AM EST 82
The Chinese government on Monday responded to a U.S. carrier group entering the South China Sea, saying the action was not “conducive to peace and stability.”
“The United States frequently sends aircraft and vessels into the South China Sea to flex its muscles,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters, Reuters reports.
“This is not conducive to peace and stability in the region,” he added.
On Sunday, the USS Theodore Roosevelt along with several other U.S. warships entered the South China Sea as part of an effort to promote “freedom of the seas,” officials said, amid rising tension between Beijing and Taiwan. The island nation reported the presence of Chinese bombers and fighter jets in its air defence identification zone the same day the U.S. ships arrived.
Zhao on Monday reportedly did not provide an explanation as to why the Chinese aircraft were in Taiwanese airspace, but affirmed Beijing’s stance claiming Taiwan as one of its territories and stated the U.S. should observe its “one China” policy.
The move was one of several Pompeo took that likely drew the ire of Beijing. He also strengthened ties with several countries in Southeast Asia such as the Maldives and the Philippines, moves that were seen by many as the U.S. bolstering its presence in the region against China.