U.S. warship transits Taiwan Strait, third under Biden administration

03/11/2021 02:07 PM
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Image from the U.S. 7th Fleet website
Image from the U.S. 7th Fleet website

Taipei, March 11 (CNA) A U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer transited through the Taiwan Strait on Thursday, the third by a U.S. battleship since President Joe Biden assumed office in January.

"A U.S. destroyer sailed from north to south through the Taiwan Strait," the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said in a statement, adding that Taiwan's military monitored the vessel's movements and that the situation in the surrounding area remains normal.

Although the MND did not name the ship, according to the U.S. 7th Fleet, it was the USS John Finn.

"The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John Finn (DDG 113) conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit March 10 (local time) in accordance with international law," a press statement by the U.S. 7th Fleet said.

"The ship's transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The U.S. military will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows," it said.

The statement was posted on the 7th Fleet's website, accompanied by two video clips showing the ship operating in rough seas and an MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter taking off from the ship's flight deck.

Image from the U.S. 7th Fleet website
Image from the U.S. 7th Fleet website

According to the web page, the USS John Finn, part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, was on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

On Feb. 4 and Feb. 24, the USS John S. McCain and the USS Curtis Wilbur, both Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers, sailed through the Taiwan Strait, marking the first two such passages since Biden took office on Jan. 20.

Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), a senior analyst at the government-funded Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR), told CNA that the U.S. Navy's frequent revelations of its military movements in the Taiwan Strait are part of its "military public diplomacy."  

The purpose of this is to make more people aware of U.S. military maneuvers -- a constrast to the approach under the Barack Obama administration, which seldom made public such activities, Su said. 

He also said the regularization of U.S. naval passages through the Taiwan Strait signifies that the U.S.' Taiwan strategy is shifting from ambiguity to one with greater clarity.  

Meanwhile, Zhang Chunhui (張春暉), spokesman of the Chinese military's Eastern Theater Command, on Thursday blasted the U.S. military for sending wrong signals to "related parties," likely referring to Taiwan.  

He said the U.S. military has "deliberately complicated the regional situation and has compromised the peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait."

Su, the senior analyst, said Zhang's statement shows that Beijing clearly wants to maintain flexibility for any future dialogue with the U.S., by having a regional-level spokesperson respond to the development.

(By Emerson Lim and Matt Yu)

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