China Protests U.S. Navy and Coast Guard in Taiwan Strait
China issued a statement protesting the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard’s joint transit of the Taiwan Strait. The U.S. authorities highlighted that the vessels were operating in international water following international law in actions which were seen by many as an exercise at showing the flag in support of Taiwan and responding to recent Chinese excursions in the region.
“We express firm opposition and strong condemnation,” the Chinese statement said according to reports by The Associated Press. The Chinese Defense Ministry expressed its concern over the recent U.S. actions protesting the transit of the Taiwan Strait by the guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd, which was joined by the Coast Guard cutter Munro after completing joint exercises with the Japan Coast Guard.
The two U.S. vessels sailed the 100-mile strait that separates Taiwan from the mainland of China. The U.S. Navy also broadly issued photos of the transit along with a brief press release. “The ships' lawful transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows,” the release read.
The AP report says that the defense ministry statement reiterated China’s long-held public stance saying, “Taiwan is an inalienable part of China.” China has long-called for reunification not recognizing the international sovereignty of Taiwan and referring to all actions toward the island as internal affairs.
Both the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard have increased their activity recently in the area. The Munro was recently dispatched from its home base in California to make a tour of Asia, which the Coast Guard said was a routine part of its international training exercises. Earlier this year, the U.S. and Taiwanese coast guards also signed a joint agreement of support.
China, however, recently conducted its own training exercise near Taiwan. In recent months, China has also increased its level of activity in the South China Sea while expanding its claims and incursions in the region.
Before last Friday’s transit, China’s Ministry of National Defense used its regular press conference as an opportunity to reiterate its criticism of the United States. Colonel Tan Kefei, deputy director of the Ministry of National Defense Information Bureau and spokesperson of the Ministry of National Defense, according to the official transcript said, “Over the past period of time, relevant personnel in the U.S. military have repeatedly made irresponsible and erroneous remarks on China-related issues, and we firmly oppose this.”
“Regarding the South China Sea issue,” the transcript says, “China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters. China is committed to resolving relevant disputes through negotiations and consultations with the countries directly concerned on the basis of respecting historical facts and international law.”
The spokesperson called on the U.S. to correct its language saying that the U.S. words and actions have “become a direct driver of tensions in the South China Sea.”