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South China Sea: US pushes back, says flight over Taiwan Strait shows commitment to open Indo-Pacific

chandella0121 / Pixabay

Foreign ships and aircraft have often drawn the ire of China, especially when the vessels and aircraft are seen passing through the Taiwan Strait. The US has pushed back against Beijing’s latest complaint, saying that the passage over the Taiwan Strait is Washington’s commitment to an open Indo-Pacific region.

The US Indo-Pacific Command issued a statement in response to China’s latest complaint about a US Navy aircraft’s flight over the Taiwan Strait, which Beijing claims as its territory. Beijing claimed that the passage by the US aircraft undermined peace and stability in the region.

“US Navy vessels and aircraft routinely interact with foreign warships and aircraft while operating throughout the region,” said the statement. “All interactions with foreign military forces during the transit were consistent with international norms and did not impact the operation.”

“The United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate anywhere international law allows including within the Taiwan Strait. The aircraft’s transit of the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said the statement.

China claimed it sent an aircraft to monitor and warn the P-8A anti-submarine aircraft as it flew over the Taiwan Strait Friday last week. The flight by Washington also followed a major incursion made by China over Taiwan’s airspace, leading Taipei to scramble fighter jets to warn away Chinese planes.

This month, China insisted that it has control over the Taiwan Strait, attempting to refute the claim that the Strait is considered international waters. Both Taiwan and the United States have rebuffed Beijing’s insistence, saying that the Strait is indeed part of international waters.

The island nation has also responded to a complaint by the Philippines over live-fire drills that are being done on a Taiwan-controlled island in the South China Sea.

Taiwan refers to the island as Taiping, while the Philippines calls it Ligaw Island. The Philippine foreign ministry claimed the island as its territory.

“Our country has the right to conduct routine exercises on Taiping Island and related maritime areas. In order to ensure the safety of maritime traffic and fishing boats operating in adjacent maritime areas, we notify the relevant regional countries in advance before each live-fire drill,” said the Taiwanese foreign ministry.

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