Beijing sends warships, aircraft near Taiwan, claims island is an 'inseparable part of China'

Beijing has declared that Taiwan is an "inseparable" part of the nation of China, and has reportedly sent warships and aircraft to the tiny island for the second day straight. This comes after Chinese President Xi Jinping was angered over Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen paying a visit to US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy earlier in the week. 

The Daily Mail reported that Chinese warships lingered around the self-ruled island, and a fighter jet and an anti-submarine helicopter crossed into the island's defense identification zone.

On Thursday, China launched a three-day patrol and inspection operation around the central and northern parts of the Taiwanese Strait, which includes motions to board ships. The country’s Fujian maritime safety administration reportedly announced the news on its WeChat account.

Reuters reported that China’s southeastern province stated the operation included “on-site inspections” on cargo ships and construction units on both sides of the Taiwan Strait that is purportedly going to ensure the “orderly operation of key projects on water.”

However, Taiwan’s Transport Ministry’s Maritime and Ports Bureau made it known through a statement on Wednesday that they strongly protest China’s move. The statement went on to note that the bureau has notified involved shipping operators that they are to refuse Chinese requests and to call upon the country’s national guard for assistance.

The statement continued: "If the mainland side insists on taking one-sided actions, it will create obstacles to normal exchanges between the two sides. We will be forced to take corresponding measures.” But the details of a potential retaliation have not been made clear.

The movement came after heightened tensions between China and Taiwan. Though China still considers Taiwan to be under its jurisdiction, Taiwan claims that it operates independently from Beijing. The push-and-pull of the two countries came to a head when Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen visited New York last week en route to Central America.

Additionally, US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy hosted Ing-wen in California on Wednesday, making the Speaker the first senior US political figure to meet a Taiwanese president on US soil in decades. However, the move is even more compelling because the US does not officially recognize Taiwan’s independence from Beijing.

China has condemned the visit as a provocation. The foreign ministry in Beijing said the following on Thursday: “In response to the egregiously wrong action taken by the United States and Taiwan, China will take strong and resolute measures to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

McCarthy said that Ing-wen is “a great friend to America,” adding that he was “optimistic we will continue to find ways for the people of America and Taiwan to work together to promote economic freedom, democracy, peace and stability.”

Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng reportedly said that the Chinese carrier, the Shandong, was seen on Wednesday about 200 nautical miles off the coast of Taiwan. Though Chiu mentioned that the Shandong was just “training,” he noted that “the timing is sensitive, and what it is up to we are still studying,” per Reuters.

Chiu reportedly told lawmakers that the ship was spotted just east of the southern tip of Taiwan, and that Taiwanese warships were closely monitoring the situation from about six nautical miles away. 

The Japanese defense ministry mentioned that the Chinese cluster consisted of “three vessels, including a frigate and a support ship,” per Reuters, and that Japanese warships were currently monitoring the situation. The Shandong was reportedly commissioned in 2019, and this is the first time that the ship has been spotted in the Pacific.

China’s Foreign Ministry apparently declined to explain what the ship was doing out there. They have reportedly sent aircraft carriers close to Taiwan at other sensitive times, which raises questions about whether this could be an intimidation tactic.

Reuters noted that in March 2022, the Shandong sailed directly through the Taiwan Strait, just a few hours before the Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden were due to meet. However, the USS Nimitz, controlled by the US, is also near Taiwan, just 400 nautical miles away.

Chiu said: “It can’t be said it’s here for us, but as soon as this situation happened - it’s all related.”

The US Navy did not comment on the nature of the USS Nimitz and what it was doing out there.


Image: Title: taiwan strait
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