TAIPEI, Taiwan (AFP) — A United States destroyer and a Canadian frigate sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday in the latest joint operation aimed at reinforcing the route’s status as an international waterway.
Beijing views as its own both democratic Taiwan and the narrow body of water separating the island from mainland China — one of the world’s busiest shipping channels.
The US has long used “freedom of navigation” passages through the Taiwan Strait to push back against Chinese claims and Western allies have increasingly joined these operations.
The USS Higgins, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, in cooperation with the Royal Canadian Navy’s Halifax-class frigate HMCS Vancouver “conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit 20 September (local time)… in accordance with international law,” the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet said.
“The ship transited through a corridor in the Strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal State.”
Canada said the HMCS Vancouver was en route to join an ongoing mission to enforce United Nations sanctions against North Korea when it transited with the USS Higgins.
“Today’s routine Taiwan Strait transit demonstrates our commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific,” Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand said in a statement, using another term for the Asia-Pacific region.
A spokesperson for China’s Eastern Theatre Command described the latest transit as “public hype.”
“The troops are always on high alert, resolutely counteract all threats and provocations, and resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Colonel Shi Yi said, according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.
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