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U.S. military sails through Taiwan Strait after Chinese protest

2019/08/23 20:02:21

Image taken from Wikimedia Commons

Taipei, Aug. 23 (CNA) A United States military ship sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Friday, two days after Beijing warned Washington on a possible sale of advanced F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan.

A U.S. landing platform dock sailed northbound through the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) said in a statement, but it did not identify the name of the ship.

MND spokesman Shih Shun-wen (史順文) said the ministry is closely monitoring air and sea movements around Taiwan and announcements will be made if there are any new developments.

The move came after Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang (耿爽) warned Washington on Wednesday to stop selling weapons to Taiwan or "bear all the consequences," a day after the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of a possible sale of 66 F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan.

According to MND records, this would be the seventh such sailing by U.S. Navy ships in 2019 and the 10th since July 2018 when U.S. military ships began to sail through the Taiwan Strait more assertively.

Many analysts believe the frequent appearance of U.S. military ships in the Taiwan Strait recently is meant as a signal to Beijing, which has stepped up its attempts at intimidation of Taiwan in recent years through military drills, military flights encircling Taiwan, and harsh rhetoric.

The last time the U.S. military sailed through the Taiwan Strait was on July 24, when China released its defense white paper that threatened to use force against a "few separatists" in Taiwan who seek the island's independence.

Aside from U.S. ships, three military ships from France, Canada and the Philippines have also navigated the Taiwan Strait this year, according to MND records.

(By Matt Yu and Emerson Lim)
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