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China irate over ‘Provocative’ passage of US Navy, Coast Guard ships in Taiwan Strait

Aug 28, 2021
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The guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100) departs San Diego Bay.

US Navy/Joe Kane

After a US guided missile destroyer sailed through the Taiwan Strait in late July, Beijing slammed the US and Taiwan – the island that Beijing views as its province – for engaging in provocative actions violating China’s sovereignty and undermining peace and stability in the region.

China’s defense ministry has issued a protest over the passage of a US Navy warship and Coast Guard cutter through the waters between China and the self-governing island of Taiwan. A statement posted on the ministry’s website Saturday denounced the move as provocative.

​According to Chinese authorities, the United States is demonstrating yet again that it is the “biggest threat to peace and stability in the 160-kilometer (100-mile) wide Taiwan Strait”.

“We express firm opposition and strong condemnation,” the statement said.

The USS Kidd guided-missile destroyer and Coast Guard cutter Munro sailed through the strait on Friday in international waters.

“The ships’ lawful transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said a statement from the Navy’s Japan-based 7th Fleet.

In mid-August, the 418-foot (127-meter) long Munro, based in Alameda, California, arrived in the region for a monthslong deployment, according to the US Coast Guard. The US cutter participated in a joint exercise with a Japanese coast guard ship, the Aso, in the East China Sea from 24th to 25th August.

​Beijing, which recently conducted drills near Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China, refuses to tolerate any interference in what it calls its internal affairs.

“Taiwan is an inalienable part of China,” underscored the defense ministry statement on Saturday.

Taiwan, which split from China during a civil war that led to the Communist Party taking control of the mainland in 1949, has been a contentious issue in Beijing-Washington relations. US President Joe Biden’s decision to invite Taipei’s de facto ambassador to his inauguration in January angered Beijing further, with the continuation of US Navy “freedom of navigation” missions in the Taiwan Strait exacerbating tensions.

The US does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan but maintains a representative office in the capital, Taipei, and is its biggest supplier of military equipment.

Beijing vowed to retaliate against Washington over the approval of the first arms sale to Taiwan by the Biden administration in early August. The Chinese foreign ministry denounced the US$750 million arms sales package as a serious infringement of China’s sovereignty and security interests, reported the South China Morning Post.

“It is sending a wrong signal to Taiwanese independence forces, and causing serious damage to China-US relations and the stability of the Taiwan Strait,” said a foreign ministry statement.

The People’s Republic considers Taiwan to be an integral part of China, and has committed to a policy of peaceful reunification under a ‘One China – Two Systems’ type model applied to Hong Kong, under which certain rights and freedoms can be retained that are not enjoyed on the mainland. Taiwan’s current ruling party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), has expressed opposition to unification, resulting in simmering tensions.

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