On January 24th, a US Navy warship and fleet replenishment oiler conducted a transit through the Taiwan strait for the third time in four months, USNI News reported.
Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG-85) and Henry Kaiser-class oiler USNS Walter S. Diehl (T-AO-193) passed through the strait in a “routine passage,” according to Navy officials cited by USNI.
“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” Lt. Cmdr. Tim Gorman commented in an email.
However, USNI reported that the mission was different from previous Navy freedom of navigation operations.
“In this case, U.S. policy does not dispute China’s claim over Taiwan, and the transit followed international law which allows for vessels to move directly through territorial sea without performing military exercises.”
In a possible response, China sent a Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jet and a Shaanxi Y-8 transport plane into the airspace near Taiwan, according to a report by SCMP.
Nine days earlier, The Arleigh-Burke guided missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) and Royal Navy Type 23 frigate HMS Argyll (F231) conducted operations together in the South China Sea between January 11th and 16th.
USS McCampbell and HMS Argyll conducted communication drills, division tactics, and a personnel exchange designed to address common maritime security priorities, enhance interoperability, and develop relationships that will benefit both navies for many years to come.
“We routinely train with regional allies and partners, but it is a rare opportunity for my team to work with the Royal Navy,” said Cmdr. Allison Christy, McCampbell’s commanding officer. “Professional engagement with our British counterparts allows us the opportunity to build upon our existing strong relationships and learn from each other.”
Argyll is currently deployed to the Indo-Pacific in support of regional security and stability. The cooperation exercise followed a trilateral anti-submarine exercise between the US Navy, UK Royal Navy and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force on December 21st and 22nd.
“Following on from our successful time in North East Asia, contributing to promoting regional security and prosperity, we are pleased with the opportunity to train alongside our closest ally,” said Cmdr. Toby Shaughnessy, Argyll’s commanding officer.
Earlier, in October, rleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-54) and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG-54) passed through the Taiwan strait.
In November, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG-106) and Henry Kaiser-class fleet replenishment oiler USNS Pecos (T-AO-197) also carried out the voyage.
CNN reported on the passage, reminding that earlier in January, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, met with his Chinese counterparts, with Chinese military officers raising the issue of Taiwan, according to a report on the Chinese military’s English-language website.
“If someone tries to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese military will do whatever it takes to safeguard national reunification, national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Gen. Li Zuocheng, a member of China’s Central Military Commission said.
Also in January, the US Defense Intelligence Agency issued a report saying that Beijing has initiated a series of ambitious military reforms and acquired new technology, modernization steps the report said were driven primarily by “Beijing’s longstanding interest to eventually compel Taiwan’s reunification with the mainland and deter any attempt by Taiwan to declare independence.”
“Beijing’s anticipation that foreign forces would intervene in a Taiwan scenario led the (People’s Liberation Army) to develop a range of systems to deter and deny foreign regional force projection,” the report added.
A few days later, the Chinese Foreign Ministry slammed the report, saying it disregards facts and uses Cold War Mentality.
“The report, in disregard of facts, made assumptions on China’s development path and strategic purposes using a Cold War mentality and zero-sum game,” Hua Chunying, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
Hua said that China firmly opposes the report, which is “extremely unprofessional and contained absurd accusations.”
“China urged the US military to reasonably and objectively treat China’s military development and safeguard the military ties between the two countries,” she said.
The China Military website also cited an anonymous Chinese military expert who said that the US simply doesn’t want to admit China’s military development is a result of the Chinese people’s own hard work and wisdom.
“The West gives no chance to China to have any cooperation with Western military enterprises. From nuclear weapons to aircraft carriers, these huge programs of China were all completed under sanctions or containments by the US and its allies. Without successful research and exploration, no one can complete these complicated and giant programs by stealing from others,” the expert said.