In the latest sign that Washington is not backing down from its ramped-up military support to the democratic island of Taiwan, and at a moment repeat PLA aircraft incursions have continued their intensity, the US Navy has sailed another destroyer through the Taiwan Strait.
The Navy’s 7th Fleet announced Thursday its guided-missile destroyer Chung-Hoon made the passage as part of its commitment to a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”
“The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit Jan. 5 (local time) through waters where high-seas freedoms of navigation and overflight apply in accordance with international law,” the Navy’s 7th Fleet Public Affairs office announced.
“Chung-Hoon’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the Navy added.
Last month China’s Foreign Ministry accused the Pentagon of seeking to create new tensions across the Taiwan Strait with its provocative sail-throughs. At the same time the Chinese military has on multiple occasions in recent months breached the Taiwan Strait median line both in the air and at sea – a pattern which grew only after Nancy Pelosi’s provocative August visit to Taipei.
China’s warplane incursions into Taiwan’s air defense zone nearly doubled in 2022 compared to the year before as Newsweek reviews of the numbers:
Chinese military aircraft, mostly fighter jets, were detected in the island’s air defense identification zone, east of the Taiwan Strait median line, on 1,737 occasions in 2022, up from 972 in the previous 12 months, statistics compiled by U.S.-based analysts Gerald Brown and Ben Lewis revealed.
Meanwhile, as we noted earlier this week, Xi’s newly appointed Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang is busy attempting a ‘softening’ and breakthrough in US-China relations.
After taking over the post last Friday, before which he served as the ambassador to the US, he wrote in a new Washington Post op-ed published Wednesday that US-China competition “should not be a zero-sum game,” arguing further that “The world is wide enough for China and the US to both develop and prosper.”
He asserted that “decoupling serves no one’s interest”, but that healthy relations including economic cooperation “will remain an important mission” in his new role as Beijing’s top diplomat, but it remains that “Improving relations takes work by both sides,” he wrote.
Qin called for ‘stability’ in relations, ironically just ahead of next week’s US-Taiwan official trade delegation talks in defiance of China’s condemnations.
As South China Morning Post underscores, the White House is involved: “The trip – a rare visit of US executive branch officials to Taiwan since President Joe Biden took office – will mark the second round of face-to-face talks on the trade initiative and the first held on the island. Washington and Taipei agreed to the talks in June,” the report detailed.
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