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China planes, ships detected around Taiwan as US destroyer passes Strait

China planes, ships detected around Taiwan as US destroyer passes Strait
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Taipei’s defence ministry said Thursday it had detected 23 Chinese warplanes and five navy warships around the island, a day after a US warship sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait.

The military presence around Taiwan comes less than two weeks before its inauguration of incoming president Lai Ching-te, who Beijing regards as a “dangerous separatist”.

China, which claims self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory, frequently sends warplanes and naval ships around the island.

The 180-kilometre (110-mile) Taiwan Strait separates Taiwan from China and is an important transport artery for cargo ships.

Taipei’s defence ministry said 23 Chinese warplanes and five navy vessels were detected around Taiwan in the 24 hours leading up to 6 am Thursday (2200 GMT).

“8 of the aircraft crossed the median line,” the ministry said, referring to a line bisecting the Taiwan Strait that is unrecognised by Beijing.

The Chinese military presence coincided with a US warship — the USS Halsey — sailing through the narrow body of water on Wednesday.

The destroyer “conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit on May 8 through waters where high-seas freedoms of navigation and overflight apply in accordance with international law,” the US 7th fleet said Wednesday.

It added that the Halsey’s transit “demonstrates the United States’ commitment to upholding freedom of navigation for all nations as a principle”.

“No member of the international community should be intimidated or coerced into giving up their rights and freedoms,” it said.

In a statement late Wednesday, Chinese naval colonel Li Xi, spokesman for the Eastern Theatre Command, called the US warship sail-through “public hype”.

He added that the Eastern Theatre command had also organised naval and air forces “to monitor the passage of the US ship through the entire process”.

“Troops in the theatre remain on high alert at all times and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and security,” the statement said.

Before Taiwan’s January elections, China had warned Lai would bring “war and decline” to the island — making the lead-up to his May 20 inauguration a closely watched period as tensions soar between the two sides.

China has said it will not renounce the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.

Lai, like outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen, does not recognise China’s claim on the island.

 

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AFP

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.







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