US and Canadian warships cross the Taiwan Strait after Biden vowed to defend the island


US and Canadian warships crossed the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday after President Joe Biden’s weekend remarks that the United States would defend Taiwan should it be attacked by China.

US Navy spokesman Lt. Mark Langford said so in a statement on Tuesday.

The US ship conducted the transit “in collaboration with the Royal Canadian Navy’s Halifax-class frigate HMCS Vancouver,” Langford said.

The two ships “have passed through a corridor in the Strait that is beyond the territorial sea of ​​any coastal state”, the lieutenant. Langford said. The transit “demonstrates the commitment of the United States and our allies and partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the lieutenant. Langford added.

Tuesday’s transit marked the second time in just over three weeks that a US Navy warship has made the voyage. Guided missile cruisers USS Antietam and USS Chancellorsville did so on August 28.

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

Although the US called the transit “routine”, it comes after Biden added fuel to tensions between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan, telling CBS “60 Minutes” that he would use US troops to defend the island if he did. China had attempted to invade.

The strait is a 180-kilometer stretch of water that separates the democratic island of Taiwan from mainland China.

Beijing claims sovereignty over Taiwan – an island of 23 million people – despite the fact that the Communist Party in power in China 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).

The United States Navy, however, says that most of the strait is in international waters, citing an UNCLOS definition of territorial waters that extends 12 nautical miles (22.2 kilometers) from a country’s coast. The United States regularly sends its warships across the strait, making dozens of such transits in recent years.

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

“Yes,” replied the president of the United States.

The comments reaffirm Biden’s earlier commitment to defending Taiwan, though he specified on Sunday that “US men and women” would be involved in the effort.

Canadian Defense Ministry Head of Media Relations Daniel Le Bouthillier confirmed that Canada participated in the transit on Tuesday.

“After visits to the ports of Jakarta, Indonesia, and Manila, the Philippines, HMCS Vancouver sailed through the Taiwan Strait alongside the USS Higgins, as this was the most direct shipping route. This navigation was carried out in full compliance with international law, including navigation rights on the high seas as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, “Le Bouthillier told CNN.

Chinese aircraft and ships were present through “various parts” of the transit of US and Canadian ships, the US military confirmed, but “all interactions with foreign military forces during the transit were consistent with international and non-international standards and practices. they had no impact on the operation, “Langford said.

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

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

“He sent a gravely wrong signal to Taiwan’s separatist independence forces. China expresses its strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition and has made serious statements to the US side, “added Mao.

The last of the US and Canadian warships crossed the strait simultaneously 11 months ago, when destroyer USS Dewey and frigate HMCS Winnipeg made the voyage.

After that transit, Major 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 have made hateful provocations and stirred up trouble in cahoots, which they have seriously jeopardized peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. ”

Chinese leader Xi Jinping said “reunification” between China and Taiwan was inevitable and refused to rule out the use of force. Tensions between Beijing and Taipei are at the highest levels in recent decades, with the Chinese military holding major military exercises near the island.