January 17, 2020
Less than a week after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen won re-election and days after the U.S. and China signed a Phase 1 trade agreement, a U.S. guided-missile cruiser transited the Taiwan Strait on Thursday.
Joe Keiley, a spokesman for the U.S. 7th Fleet, on Friday said the U.S.S. Shiloh (CG-67), a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser, conducted a “routine Taiwan Strait transit” freedom of navigation mission and demonstrated its “commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
US #cruiser #SHILOH CG67 made a northbound #Taiwan Strait transit Thurs 16 Jan, 1st US #Navy or allied transit of 2020. A US or allied warship makes the passage roughly once a month. Photo shows SHI in E #China Sea in Nov 19 w/ Chinese destroyer shadow https://t.co/CQVn03p4WJ pic.twitter.com/Dh5rCF3ot4
— Chris Cavas (@CavasShips) January 17, 2020
“The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” Keiley said, quoted by Reuters.
Naturally, China wasn’t pleased about a U.S. warship sailing through the strait. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the warship was being tracked and asked the U.S. to respect China’s territorial integrity.
“The issue of Taiwan is about China’s territorial integrity, and the most important and sensitive issue for China-US relations,” Geng said, adding that the Trump administration must respect the one-China principle.
A statement from Taiwan’s defense ministry said the U.S. warship was on routine freedom of navigation mission when it sailed north, through the strait, a region that separates the island from China. The narrow strait has been a hotbed of tension between Beijing and Washington.
President Trump has given support to Taipei, especially with the re-election of President Tsai Ing-wen, who leads the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party and is against China’s “one country, two systems” policy. In recent years, Washington has ramped up arms sales to Taiwan, including the sale of 108 Abrams main battle tanks, 66 F-16 fight jets, dozens of radar systems, and hundreds of missiles and torpedoes, to a nation that has emerged as one of Uncle Sam’s most reliable arms clients.
Ironically, ahead of last Saturday’s presidential election in Taiwan – China sailed its latest aircraft carrier through the strait, also a passive-aggressive attempt to show who’s boss. Less passively and more aggressively, Beijing recently sent fighters and bombers to encircle the island and conducted war drills in the waters around the country.
Beijing has said that Taiwan is “the most important and sensitive issue in China-US relations,” as it becomes clear that trade disputes between the U.S. and China aren’t the problem, it’s a great power competition that will only intensify in the years ahead.
This article was posted: Friday, January 17, 2020 at 7:03 am