US and Canadian warships sail through Taiwan Strait after Biden vows to defend island

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A U.S. Navy ship, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins, made a “routine transit through the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday,” U.S. Navy spokesman Lt. Mark Langford said. in a press release.

The US ship made the transit “in cooperation with the Royal Canadian Navy’s Halifax-class frigate, HMCS Vancouver,” Langford said.

The two ships “passed through a corridor in the strait which is beyond the territorial sea of ​​any coastal state”, Lt. Langford said. The transit “demonstrates the commitment of the United States and our allies and partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Lt. Langford added.

Since US President Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in early August, the United States has witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of Chinese military ships and submarines around Taiwan, a US defense official told Reuters. CNN.
Although the United States called the transit “routine,” it comes after Biden fueled tensions between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan, telling CBS’s “60 Minutes” that he would use American troops to defend the island if China tried to invade.

The strait is a 110-mile (180 kilometer) stretch of water that separates the Democratic Self-Governing Island of Taiwan from mainland China.

Beijing claims sovereignty over Taiwan, an island of 23 million people, although the ruling Chinese Communist Party has never controlled it. Beijing also claims sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the waters of the Taiwan Strait under Chinese law and its interpretation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The US Navy, however, says most of the strait is in international waters, citing a UNCLOS definition of territorial waters as extending 12 nautical miles (22.2 kilometers) from a country’s coastline. . The United States regularly sends its warships through the strait, making dozens of such transits in recent years.

In the CBS interview, Biden was asked if “American forces, American men and women, would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion.”

“Yes,” replied the American president.

The comments reiterate a pledge to defend Taiwan that Biden has already made, although on Sunday he made it clear that “American men and women” would be involved in the effort.

The head of media relations for the Canadian Ministry of Defense, Daniel Le Bouthillier, confirmed that Canada participated in the transit on Tuesday.

“After port visits to Jakarta, Indonesia and Manila, Philippines, HMCS Vancouver sailed through the Taiwan Strait with USS Higgins as it was the most direct shipping route. was carried out in full compliance with international law, including high seas navigation rights as defined in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Le Bouthillier told CNN.

Chinese planes and ships were present in “various parts” of the US and Canadian ship transit, the US military confirmed, but “all interactions with foreign military forces during transit were in accordance with international standards and practices and n had no impact on the operation”. said Langford.

Beijing was quick to condemn Biden’s weekend comments and repeated its warning that China reserves the “option to take all necessary measures” to defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

“The US remarks seriously violate the one-China principle and the provisions of the three US-China joint communiques. It is also a serious violation of the important commitment made by the US side not to support Taiwan independence. “said the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. spokesman Mao Ning said during a Monday briefing.

“It sent a serious wrong signal to the Taiwan independence separatist forces. China expresses its strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition and has made serious demarches to the US side,” Mao added.

American and Canadian warships last passed through the strait together 11 months ago when the destroyer USS Dewey and the frigate HMCS Winnipeg made the trip.

After this transit, Senior Colonel Shi Yi, spokesman for the People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command, said in a written statement that “the United States and Canada have made provocations of a heinous nature and have sowed unrest, which seriously undermined peace and stability”. across the Taiwan Strait.”

Chinese leader Xi Jinping said “reunification” between China and Taiwan was inevitable and refused to rule out the use of force. Tensions between Beijing and Taipei are at their highest level in decades, with the Chinese military holding major military exercises near the island.
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