China: Expert issues warning over Taiwan intervention
The Chinese military said on Tuesday the presence of the guided missile-destroyer was creating security risks and undermining regional stability. Beijing vowed to take all necessary steps to counter all threats and provocations, and safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity, a military spokesman said in a statement.
The Milius is taking part in what the US regards as routine activity – but which China sees as a concerted effort by Washington to stir up regional tensions.
The US Navy said the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Milius conducted a “routine Taiwan Strait transit” through international waters in accordance with international law.
In a statement, it said: “The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.
USS Milius, pictured in 2018, has passed through the narrow Taiwan Strait
US President Joe Biden
“The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows.”
Last month, the Chinese military condemned the United States and Canada for each sending a warship through the Taiwan Strait, accusing them of threatening peace and stability in the region.
China claims democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory, and has mounted repeated air force missions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) over the past year or so, provoking anger in Taipei.
China’s President Xi Jinping
The United States, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but is its most important international backer and arms supplier.
Beijing calls Taiwan, led by President Tsai Ing-wen, the most sensitive and important issue in its relations with Washington.
US Navy ships have been transiting the strait roughly every month, to the anger of Beijing.
US allies occasionally also send ships through the strait, including the British frigate HMS Richmond in September.
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Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen
HMS Richmond passed through the Taiwan Strait in September
Relations between China and the West have frayed significantly in recent months, with Taiwan regarded as a major potential flashpoint.
Speaking on Tuesday, Penny Wong, the foreign affairs spokesperson for the opposition Labor party, said the Government of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is deploying a “dangerous election tactic” with its recent comments about joining the United States in any war over Taiwan.
Australia’s Minister for Defence Peter Dutton earlier this month said it was “inconceivable” that Canberra would not join the United States in military action should China invade the island.
Ms Wong said Mr Dutton’s comments were part of the government’s strategy for an election that must happen before May 2022.
China has sought to assert its dominance in the South China Sea in recent years
During a speech to the Australian National University, she said: “Amping up the prospect of war against a superpower is the most dangerous election tactic in Australian history – a tactic employed by irresponsible politicians who are desperate to hang on to power at any cost.”
Ms Wong said Mr Morrison’s government has in recent weeks sought to portray Labor as pro-China.
Relations with China, already rocky after Australia banned Huawei from its nascent 5G broadband networking in 2018, cooled further after Canberra in 2020 called for an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, first reported in central China in 2019.
China responded by imposing tariffs on Australian commodities, including wine and barley and limited imports of Australian beef, coal and grapes, moves described by the United States as “economic coercion”.
Australia’s Defence Minister Peter Dutton
Ms Wong said Taiwan is the greatest risk to stability in the Indo-Pacific region, and any conflict there would be “catastrophic for humanity”.
Separately, Navy vessels from the Philippines successfully completed a resupply mission on Tuesday at a South China Sea outpost, its defence minister said, a day after its president rebuked China at an international summit for its blockade of the area.
Two vessels were unhindered earlier on Tuesday in reaching the Sierra Madre, a ship intentionally grounded decades ago at the Second Thomas Shoal, Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement.
A small boat was dispatched from a Chinese coast guard vessel with three people, who recorded the unloading of Philippine personnel and cargo, he said.