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U.S. Navy's transit through strait shows concern for Taiwan: scholar

2018/10/24 22:48:36

Ding Shuh-fan (丁樹範)

Beijing, Oct. 24 (CNA) When the United States sends warships through the Taiwan Strait, it is a demonstration of high concern and regard for Taiwan, a scholar from National Chengchi University (NCCU) said Wednesday.

Ding Shuh-fan (丁樹範), an adjunct research fellow at NCCU's Institute of International Relations, said Taiwan's military usually knows when U.S. warships are about to transit through the Taiwan Strait, but when the U.S. publicizes such actions, it is making a political statement.

It shows that the U.S. has high regard and concern for Taiwan, Ding told CNA on the sidelines of the Beijing Xiangshan Forum that is being held Oct. 24-26.

The passage of two American warships through the Taiwan Strait on Oct. 22 was a routine transit and a demonstration of the U.S.' commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region, the U.S. Department of Defense said that day.

"USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) and USS Antietam (CG 54) conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit on October 22, in accordance with international law," Christopher B. Logan of the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense said in an email to CNA.

Commenting on the passage of the two ships, Ding said in Beijing that China did not fly into a rage because it recognized the intentions of the U.S. and also because Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and her administration had remained calm and cautious in dealing with the matter.

On the issue of U.S.-China relations, Ding said the current tensions were mainly due to the rise of China, in particular, the strong policies of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The U.S. had already adopted a tough "push back" approach to China toward the end of President Barack Obama's last term, said Ding, the only scholar from Taiwan attending the forum.

The last straw for the U.S. was when Xi decided to lift the presidential term limits in his country, which left many American supporters of China with nothing to say, Ding said.

In addition, some Americans think that the U.S. has lost in the South China Sea because of the military islands China has built there, therefore, they cannot allow Taiwan to lose to China, Ding said.

Nonetheless, China knows it will be difficult to defend the man-made islands in the South China Sea, as the equipment is vulnerable to erosion and there is no cover there, Ding said.

"All it would take is one missile" to destroy those islands, he said, adding that China was only trying to make a statement by building the military bases.

Speaking about the Xiangshan Forum, Ding said China has upgraded its status and may use it to put forth its national defense and security propaganda.

(By Chiu Kuo-chiang and William Yen)