The US continues to irritate China while emphasizing that it stands by its commitment to a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’. In a provocation to China, two of US Navy ships – one warship and one supply ship sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday.
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This comes after Chinese officials reiterated their opposition to US’s support for Taiwan. Beijing regards Taiwan as a wayward province to be brought under its rule, by force if necessary.
China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi warned the US that “Taiwan’s independent forces and their separatist activities pose the biggest threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. The US should recognize it clearly.”
Taiwan is a growing source of friction between Beijing and Washington. The Pentagon stands by this island nation despite having no formal ties. But it is bounded by law to help it defend itself. Moreover, the US is Taiwan’s main source of arms, having sold more than $15 billion in weaponry since 2010.
Earlier this year, the Global Times in an editorial said that Washington had decided on a more discreet approach by sending destroyers and not conducting drills. It also said that the US in the near future would send larger warships through the Taiwan Strait, conduct military exercises and even collaborate with Taiwan’s military in an attempt to deter the mainland.
Meanwhile, this was the US Navy’s third such show for support for the self-ruled island, following similar passages in July and October this year. Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan in an email said: “the USS Stockdale, a guided-missile destroyer and the USNS Pecos, a replenishment oiler conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit on November 28 in accordance with international law.” He further stated that the Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.
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