BEIJING (Dispatches) - The
Chinese air force and navy tracked U.S. and Canadian warships as they transited through the Taiwan Strait, the Eastern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said on Wednesday.
The command said that it monitored the passage of the USS Higgins, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, and the Canadian navy’s Halifax-class frigate HMCS Vancouver in the Taiwan Strait, South China Morning Post reported.
Senior Colonel Shi Yi, spokesperson for the Eastern Theatre Command, “denounced the provocative move”, according to the Chinese military.
“The troops of the PLA Eastern Theatre Command are on high alert at all times to resolutely counter any threat and provocation and safeguard China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the command said in a statement.
The U.S. Navy 7th Fleet said in a statement that the transit was routine and conducted beyond “the territorial sea of any coastal state”.
The Canadian defense department said the transit was conducted “in full accordance with international law” as part of operations in the Indo-Pacific region aimed at pressuring North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons.
Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand said the mission showed the country’s commitment to a “free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific” region.
The Taiwanese Defense Ministry also issued a statement confirming the U.S. and Canadian warships travelled from South to North through the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday. The ministry added the situation was “normal” as it monitored the waters and airspace around Taiwan during the transit.
It was the first American military operation in the Taiwan Strait since U.S. President Joe Biden said in a weekend interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes that the United States would defend Taiwan in the event of an attack by the People’s Liberation Army. The White House later said US policy toward Taiwan was unchanged.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday warned that the United States’ pro-Taiwan approach might have a “subversive impact” on US-China relations during a meeting with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
He also said Beijing may use its Anti-Secession Law to seek reunification with Taiwan. The 2005 legal framework allows Beijing to use non-peaceful means to guard against the island’s possible separation from mainland China.
Tensions in the Taiwan Strait have escalated since US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August. Beijing retaliated by conducting military drills over several days in six locations, nearly encircling the island.
At the beginning of this month, the Chinese military also sent five warships and four aircraft – including two J-10 fighter jets – to the strait after the US State Department approved a US$1.1 billion arms sale to Taiwan.
Before Tuesday’s operation, the US military’s last transit through the Taiwan Strait was on August 29, when it sent two Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers, the USS Antietam and the USS Chancellorsville.
‘U.S. Should Stop Being World’s Largest Maker of War’
On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the U.S. should stop being the world’s biggest maker of war.
He made the remarks in response to U.S. launching 251 military interventions since 1991, and 469 since 1798 according to U.S. journalist Benjamin Norton’s article citing data from the Congressional Research Service, a U.S. government institution that compiles information on behalf of Congress, CGTN reported.
The U.S. side has repeatedly claimed to respect and uphold the “rules-based international system”, but the data released by the U.S. Congress fully reflects the belligerent nature and hegemonic undertones of “U.S. rules”, Wang said.
The U.S. was not at war for only 16 years of its 240-plus years of history, he noted, adding that after the Cold War, the U.S. launched military operations seven times more frequently than before.
He also noted that countries targeted by the U.S. military include the vast majority of the nations on earth, including almost every single county in Latin America and the Caribbean and most of the African continent.