Anita Anand condemns Beijing’s ‘irresponsible’ maneuvers across the Taiwan Strait

OTTAWA — Defense Secretary Anita Anand says Beijing acted irresponsibly in the Taiwan Strait over the weekend, where Washington said a Chinese warship forced an American ship to avoid a collision near a Canadian frigate following it.

The US military released video of a so-called “dangerous” Chinese maneuver on Monday. The American destroyer USS Chung-Hoon, followed by the Canadian frigate HMCS Montreal, made a so-called “freedom of navigation” transit in the strait between Taiwan and mainland China on Saturday.

China claims the democratic self-governing island of Taiwan as part of its territory and claims the strait is part of its exclusive economic zone. But the United States and its allies regularly sail and fly across these straits to reinforce their claim that these waters are international waters.

According to the US Indo-Pacific Command, the Chinese missile destroyer passed the Chung-Hoon on the port side during Saturday’s passage and then spun past her bow at a distance of 137 meters. The American destroyer stayed the course, but reduced her speed to 10 knots “to avoid a collision,” according to the US Army.

Video released Monday shows the Chinese ship clipping the American destroyer’s course, then correcting course, before sailing parallel.

The US Indo-Pacific Command said the maneuvers violated maritime regulations for safe passage through international waters.

The Chinese ship did not attempt a similar maneuver on the Canadian frigate sailing behind the American destroyer.

International right

“Canada will continue to navigate where international law allows, including in the Strait and the South China Sea,” Minister Anand said in an email attributed to her. Our overarching goal is to increase peace and stability in this region.”

The minister also indicated that the Canadian Army will be more present in the region as part of the Liberal government’s new Indo-Pacific strategy. “Stakeholders in this region must engage responsibly, and that is the most important thing,” she wrote.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin defended the maneuver at a news conference in Beijing on Monday. “These measures are fully justified, legal, safe and professional,” he argued, according to an official translation of his statements.

“China is firmly opposed to the country in question causing unrest in the Taiwan Strait and is firmly committed to upholding its sovereignty and security as well as regional peace and stability,” he said. It is the United States that should reflect on and correct its wrongdoings.”

The United States recently accused Beijing of having carried out an “unnecessarily aggressive maneuver” in the sky over the South China Sea. Washington claims that late last month a Chinese J-16 fighter jet flew right in front of a US Air Force reconnaissance plane.

These “near misses” have raised fears of a possible accident that could lead to an escalation between the two countries’ armies at a time when tensions in the region are already high.

Tyrone Hodgson

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