US and Canadian warships sail through the Taiwan Strait after Biden pledged to defend the island

US Navy spokesman Lt. Mark Langford said in a statement that a US Navy ship, the USS Higgins’ Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, conducted a “routine transit through the Taiwan Strait” on Tuesday.

Langford said the US ship made the crossing “in cooperation with the Royal Canadian Navy’s Halifax Vancouver-class frigate.”

Lieutenant Langford said the ships “twice through a passage in the strait beyond the territorial sea of ​​any coastal state.” Lt Langford added that the transit “demonstrates the commitment of the United States, our allies, and our partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

A US defense official told CNN that since US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in early August, the US has seen a significant increase in the number of Chinese military ships and submarines around Taiwan.

Although the US has described the crossing as “routine,” it comes after Biden added fuel to the tensions between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan, he said on CBSN’s “60 Minutes.” He would have used American forces to defend the island if China tried to invade.

The strait is 110 miles (180 km) of water that separates the autonomous island of Taiwan from mainland China.

Beijing claims sovereignty over Taiwan – the island of 23 million people – even though China’s ruling Communist Party has never controlled it. Beijing also claims sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the waters of the Taiwan Strait under Chinese law and its interpretation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

However, the US Navy says most of the strait is in international waters, citing the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea’s definition of territorial waters as extending 12 nautical miles (22.2 kilometers) from a country’s coast. The United States regularly sends its warships through the strait, making dozens of such crossings in recent years.

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In an interview with CBS, Biden was asked if “American forces, American men and women, would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion.”

The US President replied: “Yes.”

The comments echo Biden’s previous pledge to defend Taiwan, though he specified on Sunday that “American men and women” would be involved in the effort.

The head of media relations for the Canadian Ministry of Defense, Danielle Le Beauthelier, confirmed that Canada participated in the transit operation on Tuesday.

“After port visits in Jakarta, Indonesia and Manila, Philippines, HMCS Vancouver sailed through the Taiwan Strait along with USS Higgins, as this was the most direct navigational route. This sail was done in strict accordance with international law, including high seas navigation rights. as stipulated by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Le Beauthélier told CNN.

The US military asserted that Chinese aircraft and ships were located across “different parts” of the US and Canadian ship transit, but that “all interactions with foreign military forces during transit were in accordance with international standards and practices and did not affect the operation.” Langford said.

Beijing quickly condemned Biden’s comments over the weekend and repeated its warning that China reserves “the option to take all necessary measures” to defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

“The US remarks seriously violate the one-China principle and the provisions of the three joint communiques between the US and China. It is also a serious violation of the important commitment made by the US side not to support Taiwan independence,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. Mao Ning’s spokesman said briefly on Monday.

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“He has sent a serious wrong message to the separatist forces on Taiwan independence. China expresses strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition and has lodged solemn representations with the US side,” Mao added.

The last time American and Canadian warships passed through the strait at the same time was 11 months ago, when it made the destroyer voyage of the USS Dewey and the frigate HMCS Winnipeg.

After the crossing, Colonel Shi Yi, a spokesman for the Eastern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army, said in a written statement that “the United States and Canada made provocations of an abhorrent nature and provoked problems in cooperation, seriously endangering peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has said that “reunification” between China and Taiwan is inevitable and has refused to rule out the use of force. Tensions between Beijing and Taipei are at an all-time high in recent decades, with the Chinese military conducting major military exercises near the island.

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