The Pentagon revealed on Sunday that it sailed a US warship through the contested Taiwan Strait in conjunction with a Canadian frigate. The pair went through on Thursday and Friday at a moment tensions between China and Taiwan continue to intensify.
The warships were identified in the US military statement as Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Dewey and the Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg. “Dewey’s and Winnipeg’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the commitment of the United States and our allies and partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the US military statement said.
This continues the apparent Biden administration pattern of sailing a warship through the strait on “freedom of navigation” missions about once every month. This latest comes within weeks after China’s PLA military flew record numbers of aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone.
On October 4 two waves of Chinese aircraft, including long-range bombers, had flown toward Taiwan – which by day’s end totaled a record-breaking 56 aircraft breaching the island’s air defense zone. That particular weekend had seen wave after wave of threatening Chinese flights toward Taiwan, as Reuters summarized:
China sent about 150 aircraft into the zone over a four-day period beginning on Oct. 1 in a further heightening of tensions between Beijing and Taipei that has sparked concern internationally.
China over this weekend condemned what it called a threat to “peace and stability” after the two Western allies conducted the sail-through.
“The United States and Canada colluded to provoke and stir up trouble… seriously jeopardizing peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait,” said a statement by China’s People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command.
“Taiwan is part of Chinese territory. Theatre forces always maintain a high level of alert and resolutely counter all threats and provocations,” the PLA added.
It increasingly appears the US is attempting to bring its English-speaking allied nations (the “five eyes” intelligence and military partnership) into closer coordination in the Indo-Pacific to counter China’s military influence. The Canadian frigate is operating in the region, interestingly, also as Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was just released from Canadian custody.