U.S. flies aircraft over Taiwan Strait to counter China's military expansion: analysts

06/25/2022 01:57 PM
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A P-8A Poseidon plane. Photo: U.S. Indo-Pacific Command
A P-8A Poseidon plane. Photo: U.S. Indo-Pacific Command's Twitter page @INDOPACOM

Taipei, June 25 (CNA) Local military experts say the recent passage of a United States Navy P-8A Poseidon through the Taiwan Strait is a move aimed at countering China's claims to the waterway as its internal waters and its "systematic expansion" in the region.

The United States flying the reconnaissance plane on Friday was a response to the assertion by China that the Taiwan Strait is not international waters, Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), an analyst at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, told CNA.

It was also to counter China's actions to systematically expand its military presence in the region, seen in its aircrafts' daily entries into Taiwan's self-declared air defense identification zone (ADIZ) and its warships' sailings in the waters claimed by China and other countries in the South China Sea, Su said.

He noted that Chinese and Russian naval vessels were also navigating Japan's territorial waters.

The U.S. aircraft's transit came days after 29 Chinese military planes entered Taiwan's ADIZ on June 21, the third-highest single-day total this year, and after China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) told a media briefing the waters of the Taiwan Strait are China's internal waters.

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement that the transit "demonstrates the United States' commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific," according to a CNN report on Friday.

"The United States will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows, including within the Taiwan Strait," the statement read. "By operating within the Taiwan Strait in accordance with international law, the United States upholds the navigational rights and freedoms of all nations."

The rarity of the U.S. dispatching the aircraft was apparently meant to counteract the harassment of Japan by Chinese and Russian ships, said Shu Hsiao-huang (舒孝煌), an analyst at Taiwan's Institute for National Defense and Security Research.

Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense, meanwhile, told CNA that the ministry has a full grasp of China's military activity and has proper contingency measures in place to safeguard national security.

On Saturday, Shi Yi (施毅), a spokesman for the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command, slammed the U.S. for "endangering the peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait" by flying the aircraft and publicizing the move.

The Eastern Theater Command had organized air and ground forces to monitor the entire operation of the U.S. aircraft, he said.

China has stepped up its military activities near Taiwan in recent years in response to what it sees as closer Washington and Taipei relations, including words and actions, that it says violates long-held agreements, changes the status quo, and emboldens Taiwan's pro-independence ruling party.

Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party, meanwhile, has accused Beijing of continuing to use military, diplomatic and economic means to pressure and intimidate Taiwan and neighboring countries in the Indo-Pacific region, heightening regional tensions and making no efforts to break the deadlock between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan's opposition parties, cross-strait observers and ordinary citizens have urged all three sides - China, Taiwan and the U.S. - to take actions to reduce tensions and to work towards peace.

(By Matt Yu and Shih Hsiu-chuan)


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