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U.S. warship transits Taiwan Strait less than week after election

In this photo taken Dec. 17, 2019 and released Dec. 27, 2019 by Xinhua News Agency, the Shandong aircraft carrier is docked at a naval port in Sanya in southern China's Hainan Province. The commissioning of the Shandong, China's first entirely home-built aircraft carrier, underscores the country's rise as a regional naval power at a time of tensions with the U.S. and others over trade, Taiwan and the South China Sea.

In this photo taken Dec. 17, 2019 and released Dec. 27, 2019 by Xinhua News Agency, the Shandong aircraft carrier is docked at a naval port in Sanya in southern China's Hainan Province. The commissioning of the Shandong, China's first entirely home-built aircraft carrier, underscores the country's rise as a regional naval power at a time of tensions with the U.S. and others over trade, Taiwan and the South China Sea.   | Photo Credit: AP

China sailed its latest aircraft carrier, the Shandong, through the waterway twice in the run-up to Taiwan's election last Saturday.

A U.S. warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Thursday, the island's defence ministry said, less than a week after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen won re-election by a landslide on a platform of standing up to China which claims the island.

The ship sailed in a northerly direction through the sensitive waterway and Taiwan's armed forces monitored it throughout, the ministry said in a brief statement on Friday, describing the sailing as an “ordinary mission”.

“People can rest easy,” it added.

Taiwan is China's most sensitive territorial and diplomatic issue and Beijing has never ruled out the use of force to bring the island under its control. The narrow Taiwan Strait which separates the island from China is a frequent source of tension.

Intimidation

China sailed its latest aircraft carrier, the Shandong, through the waterway twice in the run-up to Taiwan's election last Saturday.

Taiwan denounced that as attempted intimidation.

The U.S. Navy said the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh had completed a transit of the Taiwan Strait, without giving details. The United States has been conducting sporadic missions through the strait in the last two years.

Washington has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself and is its main source of arms.

Meeting the de facto British ambassador to Taiwan later on Friday, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said that the island would ensure peace in the Taiwan Strait.

“As a responsible member of the international community, Taiwan will continue to dedicate itself to protecting peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” the presidential office cited Ms. Tsai as telling Catherine Nettleton.

Strong message: Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen waving to people in New Taipei City, Taiwan, on Saturday.

Strong message: Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen waving to people in New Taipei City, Taiwan, on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: AP

 

Under the Trump administration, the United States has made bolstering its defence and other ties with Taiwan a priority, in spite of Chinese anger.

The top U.S. diplomat in Taiwan, Brent Christensen, told a forum in Taipei on Friday that his office's theme for this year was “real friends, real progress”, and took what appeared to be an indirect dig at China.

“Perhaps this concept sounds simple, but it is important to consider its significance within the current context,” said Mr. Christensen, director of the American Institute in Taiwan.

“Some use the cover of friendship to dominate and manipulate; promising mutual benefit but instead delivering extortion; exporting problems rather than solutions,” he added.

Mr. Christensen said the United States this year will seek to further Taiwan's engagement in the world, something the island has found difficult due to China blocking Taiwan's participation in most international organisations.

“The United States and Taiwan are members of the same family of democracies,” he added.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 2:47:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/us-warship-transits-taiwan-strait-less-than-week-after-election/article30583632.ece

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