The US and Canada have angered China by sending their warships through the Taiwan Strait, a narrow waterway that separates the island from the mainland. This was the second joint transit by the two countries in two months, amid rising tensions over Taiwan’s status and China’s military activities in the region.
China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, has increased military and political pressure on the island in recent years. It has also denounced any foreign interference or support for Taiwan, which it views as a renegade province that must be reunited with the mainland by force if necessary.
China’s Eastern Theatre Command said its troops were on constant high alert and would protect national sovereignty and security after the US and Canadian warships conducted a routine transit through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, Nov 1, 2023.
“The US and Canada have hyped up their so-called ‘routine passage’ through the Taiwan Strait, which is a serious provocation to China’s sovereignty and security,” said Senior Colonel Zhang Chunhui, spokesman for the PLA Eastern Theatre Command.
He urged the US and Canada to abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiques, which acknowledge Beijing’s claim over Taiwan and pledge to maintain peaceful relations across the strait.
The US Navy’s 7th Fleet said the transit was in accordance with international law and demonstrated cooperation for a secure and prosperous region.
“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US 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 in a statement.
The Canadian Department of National Defence also said the transit was part of its regular operations with the US Navy in the Indo-Pacific region, and was intended to support a rules-based international order, security and stability, and respect for the sovereignty of all states.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said the situation was normal and it was monitoring the passage. Taiwan’s foreign ministry thanked the US and Canada for their support for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
The US, which does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but is its main arms supplier and most important international backer, has increased its military presence and contacts with the island in recent years, as part of its strategic competition with China.
The US has also been seeking to strengthen its alliances and partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region, including with Canada, to counter China’s growing influence and assertiveness.
The Taiwan Strait is a flashpoint for potential conflict between China and the US and its allies. The US and other countries have regularly sent their warships through the strait to demonstrate their support for Taiwan and their right to freedom of navigation. China has often responded with harsh rhetoric and military maneuvers, such as sending its fighter jets and bombers near or across the strait.
– China on alert after US, Canadian ships cross Taiwan Strait, Channel News Asia, 02 Nov 2023
– PLA says US and Canada ‘hyped’ warships’ passage through Taiwan Strait, South China Morning Post, 02 Nov 2023
– Canadian frigate, U.S. destroyer transit Taiwan Strait amid China tensions, Global News, 02 Nov 2023
– American and Canadian Warships Sail Through Waters Between China and Taiwan, MSN, 02 Nov 2023