On November 28th, the US sent its guided missile destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG106) and replenishment oiler USNS Pecos (T-OA-197) through the Taiwan strait for the third provocation against China in 2018.
The passage will most likely increase tensions between the US and China, amid hopes that the on-going trade war may be put to an end during the G-20 Summit.
According to Taiwan’s defense ministry a US warship and accompanying supply ship sailed through international waters, and in the same statement noted Taiwan will defend its maritime territory and airspace security.
Thus, Taiwan views these actions by the US as a sign of support from the Trump administration amid apparent tensions between Taipei and Beijing.
The US Pacific fleet released a statement announcing its commitment to its freedom of navigation activities and gave no sign that these provocations would end. “The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”
An anonymous US official told AFP news agency that Chinese ships asserted a “presence” during patrols on November 28th. According to the source, the interactions between the Chinese and US navies were “professional” and “safe.”
As of November 29th, there has been no reaction from Beijing. On October 22nd, China strongly protested after the US navy sailed two warships through the Taiwan strait.
This latest move comes ahead of a planned meeting between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Argentina. They are to sit at a dinner together on December 1st.
Washington keeps presenting China as an aggressor towards Taiwan and claims to have sold weapons at a value more than $15 billion since 2010. China opposes US weapon sales to Taiwan, because according to Beijing it threatens stability in the region.
Last month, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said the island will increase its defense budget every year to ensure it can defend its sovereignty. It is questionable how that would happen, since the separatists in Taiwan, the Democratic Progressive Party, suffered losses in mayoral and county elections against the China-friendly Kuomintang.
In recent months the hot points between China and US have included the trade war, the South China Sea, US sanctions on arms purchases from Russia, in addition to Taiwan.