US navy flies aircraft through Taiwan Strait day after US-China defence chiefs hold rare talks : The Tribune India

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US navy flies aircraft through Taiwan Strait day after US-China defence chiefs hold rare talks

Although the strait is in international waters, China considers the passage of foreign military aircraft and ships through it a challenge to its sovereignty

US navy flies aircraft through Taiwan Strait day after US-China defence chiefs hold rare talks

A Boeing P-8 Poseidon aircraft from the US Navy. Photo: Reuters file



AP

Taipei (Taiwan), April 17

The US 7th Fleet said a Navy P-8A Poseidon flew through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, a day after the US and Chinese defence chiefs held their first talks since November 2022 in an effort to reduce regional tensions.

The patrol and reconnaissance plane “transited the Taiwan Strait in international airspace”, the 7th Fleet said in a news release.

“By operating within the Taiwan Strait in accordance with international law, the United States upholds the navigational rights and freedoms of all nations,” the release said.

The critical strait is 160-km (100-mile) wide and divides China from the self-governing island democracy. Although it’s in international waters, China considers the passage of foreign military aircraft and ships through it a challenge to its sovereignty.

China claims the island of Taiwan, threatening to defend it by force if necessary despite the US military support for the island.

China scrambled fighter jets to “monitor the US plane’s passage” and operated “in accordance of laws and regulations, naval Col Li Xi, spokesperson for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command,” said in a report on the command’s official Weibo social media site.

“Theatre troops are on high alert at all times to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and security as well as regional peace and stability,” Li said.

China routinely issues stern protests and activates defences in response to the passage of ships and military planes through the straight, particularly those from the US.

China also regularly sends navy ships and warplanes into the strait and other areas around the island to wear down Taiwan’s defences and seek to intimidate its 23 million people, who firmly back their de facto independence.

“By operating within the Taiwan Strait in accordance with international law, the United States upholds the navigational rights and freedoms of all nations. The aircraft’s transit of the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military flies, sails and operates anywhere international law allows,” the 7th Fleet statement said.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with his Chinese counterpart, Adm Dong Jun, on Tuesday in the latest US effort to improve communications with the Chinese military and reduce the chances of a clash in the region.

It was the first time Austin has talked to Dong and the first time he has spoken at length with any Chinese counterpart since November 2022. The call, which lasted a bit more than an hour, came as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to travel to China this month for talks.

Military-to-military contact stalled in August 2022, when Beijing suspended all such communication after then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan. China responded by firing missiles over Taiwan and staging a surge in military manoeuvres, including what appeared to be a rehearsal of a naval and aerial blockade of the island. 

#China #Taiwan


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