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U.S. naval ships have right to traverse Taiwan Strait: official

2018/07/19 16:43:31

Image taken from DDG-65 Facebook (facebook.com/ussbenfold)

Washington, July 18 (CNA) A ranking United States official on Wednesday was reluctant to confirm whether Washington will send aircraft carriers through the Taiwan Strait but said it has the right to do so in international waters.

"I won't talk about future plans. I will say that it is international water, and it is our right to do that," Randall Schriver, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, said at a seminar co-hosted by the Heritage Foundation and the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy on "Opportunities and Challenges of Cross-Strait Relations."

On July 7 and 8, two U.S. Navy ships made a routine transit through the strait in international waters between the South China Sea and East China Sea.

Schriver said the U.S. has seen China stepping up its pressure on Taiwan, increasing its efforts to block Taiwan from participating in international organizations, grabbing Taiwan's diplomatic allies, and sending its aircraft and military vessels to circle Taiwan, all of which are a far cry from "constructive" practices such as dialogue.

China's increasingly military pressure on Taiwan will have an impact on how the U.S. should respond to improve security ties with Taiwan and on the U.S.' own plans in the region, he said.

Under such circumstances, the U.S. is considering selling weapons to Taiwan on a routine and regular basis in line with the Taiwan Relations Act, Schriver said.

"That is very much based on the threat we see from China, and Taiwan's security needs," he said.

Schriver also praised Taiwan for what he said was its pragmatic approach in dealing with cross-strait relations by adopting an open attitude toward holding reciprocal and dignified negotiations with China with no pre-conditions.

It is important to uphold such a flexible principle, once Taiwan can maintain its defense capability, he said.

That will make Taiwan confident and capable when it goes to the negotiating table with China, without any pressure, Schriver added.

Regarding issues related to the South China Sea, Schriver said the U.S. canceled its invitation to China to take part in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise, the world's largest international maritime warfare exercise, because the recent movements by China's People's Liberation Army have balked a public promise made by Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) during a visit to the U.S. in 2015.

China's militarization in the islands in the South China Sea is not just an issue between the U.S. and China, but also involves international law, Schriver said.

The international community is greatly concerned that China's acts will infringe on the due rights of other countries in the area, he said.

(By Rita Chen and Flor Wang)
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