China in chilling warning to Taiwan over invasion
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It comes amid heightened tensions between Beijing and Taipei about the status of the island just days after US President Joe Biden said that Washington would defend Taiwan if China invaded. In recent years US warships along with their Canadian and British counterparts have sailed through the Strait.
This has frequently irritated China, which claims that self-governing Taiwan is part of the Communist run People’s Republic.
In a statement, the US Navy said its Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Higgins along with the Royal Canadian Navy’s Halifax-class frigate Vancouver were the vessels involved in the patrol.
They conducted the transit in the Strait, which is beyond the territorial sea of any country in the region.
They said: “Cooperation like this represents the centrepiece of our approach to a secure and prosperous region.”
According to the US military, Chinese ships and aircraft were present during “various parts” of the transit.
However, they added “all interactions with foreign military forces during the transit were consistent with international standards and practices and did not impact the operation.”
Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand said that as a pacific nation Canada was committed to upholding stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.
She said: “Today’s routine Taiwan Strait transit demonstrates our commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.”
The Taiwanese defence ministry said that the ships sailed in a northerly direction through the strait.
They added that its forces observed them but that “the situation was as normal”.
Tensions were raised last month following the controversial visit of US House speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.
Beijing was furious at what it considered a deliberate provocation and launched a series of military drills close to the island.
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These drills have continued but on a much reduced scale.
The Taiwan strait has frequently been a flashpoint since the Communist victory in the Chinese civil war in 1949.
While the Communists marched to Beijing to proclaim the foundation of the People’s Republic of China, the defeated nationalists fled to Taiwan to form the rival Republic of China.
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