British Warship Plows Through Taiwan Strait Amid Beijing-Taipei Tensions
Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier called for more efforts to ensure peace and security in the Taiwan Strait, as a US Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, the USS Barry, conducted what it stated was a "routine" transit through the sensitive waterway, in a mission implemented "in accordance with international law".
A British warship, the HMS Richmond, sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Monday. On its Twitter account, the Type 23 frigate of the Royal Navy, which is part of the UK's Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21) led by the HMS Queen Elizabeth, announced that it was passing through the Taiwan Strait en route to Vietnam, to link up with the Vietnam People's Navy.
The HMS Richmond also made reference to a "busy period working with partners and allies in the East China Sea." HMS Richmond had been deployed in the East China Sea taking part in United Nation's sanctions enforcement operations against North Korea which ban the sale of fuel to the country over concerns regarding its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.
When asked to comment on the incident, Taiwan Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng was cited by media in Taipei as saying:
"When they pass through the Taiwan Strait our nation's military will have a grasp of the situation, but will not interfere."
'Volatile Situation' in Taiwan Strait
Earlier, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned of a volatile situation in the Taiwan Strait, calling for more efforts to ensure peace and security in the area. In a congratulatory letter to Eric Chu, the newly elected leader of the Kuomintang (KMT), Taiwan's main opposition party, Xi stressed that "at present, the situation in the Taiwan Strait is complex and grim" and that "all the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation must work together with one heart and go forward together".
In late August, Beijing slammed Washington for allegedly undermining stability in the Taiwan Strait after two US warships passed through. The American Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, USS Barry's recent transit through the Taiwan Strait was lambasted as a "provocation" of the kind that shows that "it [Washington] is the destroyer of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, and a security risk creator in the region", according to Shi Yi, a spokesperson for the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA).
The US Navy stated that it had conducted a "routine" transit through the Taiwan Strait, in a mission implemented "in accordance with international law".
The current sailing of a UK frigate route through the sensitive Taiwan Strait on Monday comes amid heightened tensions between China and Taiwan, which split from the mainland during a civil war that resulted in the Communist Party taking control in 1949. Since then, Taiwan, officially called the Republic of China, has been governed independently from the mainland, with Beijing viewing the island as its province.
Taiwan, which has its own elected government, maintains political and economic relations with several nations that treat it as a sovereign state. Beijing, whose official policy envisions a peaceful unification of Taiwan with Mainland China, has engaged in rounds of talks with island authorities over several decades. The Chinese Foreign Ministry also called on Taiwan to acknowledge its future lies in "reunification" earlier this year.
Taipei has persistently rejected Beijing's proposal for "one country, two systems".
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