The U.S. has deployed two of its warships to the Taiwan Strait in a first such mission since the controversial visit of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei, the Navy said on Saturday.
Media reports said:
USS Chancellorsville and USS Antietam, guided-missile cruisers, are sailing through international waters in the area, according to a statement from the U.S. 7th fleet.
According to the U.S. 7th fleet, the warship transit is “routine” and “demonstrates the united States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
The U.S. statement stressed that the mission is being conducted “in accordance with international law.”
The Chinese military has been put on high alert due to the ships’ passage and is ready “to stop any provocation in a timely manner,” Shi Yi, spokesperson for the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), said.
The U.S. Navy’s so-called freedom of navigation operations tend to draw anger from China.
“The frequent provocations and showing-off by the U.S. fully demonstrate that the U.S. is the destroyer of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the creator of security risks in the Taiwan Strait,” Shi stated in July, referring to a similar mission by U.S. forces.
The deployment comes after a string of U.S. lawmakers’ visits to Taiwan, with the latest taking place on Thursday when U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn arrived on the self-governed island. Earlier this month, a U.S. congressional delegation consisting of four Democrats and one Republican travelled to Taipei “to discuss U.S.-Taiwan relations, regional security, trade and investment, global supply chains climate change and other significant issues of mutual interest.”
All these trips followed an especially inflammatory visit by Nancy Pelosi in early August, which sent relations between Washington and Beijing into a tailspin and triggered massive Chinese military exercises in the area. Beijing perceived a visit by the second person in the line of presidential succession as a violation of the ‘One China’ principle by the highest levels of power in Washington.
The Taiwan Strait, which separates the self-governed island from mainland China, has been a source of military tension since 1949, when Chinese nationalists fled to Taiwan after losing the Civil War to the Communists.
China Deploys Ships, Jets Near Taiwan, Says Taipei
Another media report said:
A sizable group of Chinese military vessels and aircraft has been detected around Taiwan amid heightened tensions in the region, the self-governed island’s defense ministry claimed on Sunday.
According to the ministry, eight Chinese Navy vessels and 23 aircraft were detected in Taiwan’s vicinity. Ten planes, it stated, “had flown on the east part of the median line of the Taiwan Strait,” which in practice serves as an unofficial barrier between mainland China and the island.
The Taiwanese military added that local combat air patrol has been given relevant instructions, and that Beijing’s activities are being closely monitored.
The apparent Chinese deployment comes a day after the U.S. sent two warships to the Taiwan Strait.
Beijing responded by putting its military on high alert and signaling its readiness “to stop any provocation in a timely manner.” Earlier, China also castigated the U.S., branding it “destroyer of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”
China considers the self-governing island its own territory, and views visits by high-ranking U.S. officials as attacks on its sovereignty and a violation of the ‘One China’ principle.
U.S. Old Warships Sailing Through Taiwan Straits Cannot Deter PLA At All
The PLA announcing that the entire passage of the U.S. warships have been monitored and everything is under control.
According to Voice of America, the U.S. Navy is sailing two warships through the Taiwan Straits on Sunday, in the first such transit publicized since Pelosi visited Taiwan. The U.S. cruisers are conducting a routine transit, the U.S. 7th Fleet said.
The U.S. Navy has conducted similar actions many times in the past with the aim to implement so-called “freedom of navigation” in the Taiwan Straits and the South China Sea, while as long as the U.S. vessels follow the rules of “innocent passage” to keep low profile and pose no harm, turn off weapons and fire-control radar system, and bring no actual threat to China’s security, the PLA would just follow and monitor, said experts, noting that there is no big difference this time as the U.S. also does not want to put its old warships in danger.
“During wartime, the U.S. warships, whether cruisers, destroyers or even aircraft carriers, cannot survive in the Taiwan Straits if they interfere in the reunification process with force, because they are too close to the mainland and cannot survive the saturation attacks launched by the PLA’s land-based missiles. So if the U.S. Navy wants to deter the PLA, sailing through the Taiwan Straits is actually pointless and meaningless,” said Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentators.
In the past, the U.S. normally sent Arleigh Burke class destroyers, which are smaller than Ticonderoga-class cruisers, to conduct such mission, but this time it sent two cruisers, so it proves that the U.S. is fully aware of and fear of the PLA’s capability so that it needs two warships to accompany with each other to embolden themselves, said analysts.
But Ticonderoga-class cruiser is a very old warship, and the PLA’s Type 055 is much more advanced, Song noted, adding that even sending two cruisers this time, the U.S. still cannot intimidate China, only makes its move look more like a show to comfort the secessionist Taiwan authorities who pin great hope on the US to provide protection.
By making such provocation in the region, the U.S. just repeatedly proves that the U.S. is the biggest and the most hostile external force that intends to interrupt China’s reunification process, and the U.S. does not want to see China reunified, so that the PLA will be more direct in training and preparing for potential conflict with the US in the future once China is forced to launch operation to solve the Taiwan question, experts said.
Another U.S. Lawmaker
Another U.S. lawmaker arrived in Taiwan on Thursday evening, continuing the series of visits by American officials to the island that started with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this month. Beijing says the trips are designed to antagonize the Chinese government and lend support to separatists.
The Taiwanese foreign ministry said on Thursday that “important guest” would be arriving in Taipei on board a U.S. military transport, according to the Central News Agency. A Fox News producer identified the visitor as Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), who was most recently in nearby Papua New Guinea.
After touching down at Songshan airport, the American visitors would meet President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday. There was no comment from the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto US embassy.
Blackburn falsely and provocatively remarked that Taiwan has its own territory and said she “will not be bullied by Communist China into turning my back on the island,” U.S. media reported.
Blackburn’s visit is the fourth by senior U.S. officials since the beginning of August, and a third trip by members of Congress.
Pelosi’s trip at the start of the month was followed a week later by a delegation of both House and Senate members from both parties. Earlier this week, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb visited Taipei.
Taiwan’s Military Budget
On Thursday, the government in Taipei proposed a $19 billion military budget for 2023, with a major increase to cover a purchase of new fighter jets from the U.S., according to Reuters.
The U.S. has sold weapons and military equipment to the island.
PLA Conducts Exercise
The PLA organized a multi-service and arms joint combat-readiness patrol and realistic combat exercise in the seas and airspace around the island of Taiwan, the Eastern Theater Command of the PLA announced on Friday afternoon, hours after U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn met with Taiwan’s regional leader Tsai Ing-wen, discussing issues like regional security and semiconductor supply chains in a three-day visit.
The Eastern Theater Command points out that the actual combat exercise is a regular military operation organized in accordance with the changing situation in the Taiwan Straits. The PLA will resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and security as well as peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits.
According to information released by the Taiwan region’s defense authority, eight PLA Navy vessels and 35 PLA aircraft were detected around the island on Friday, with 18 of the detected aircraft having flown on the east part of the “median line” of the Taiwan Straits and the island’s self-proclaimed southwest ADIZ.