Taipei | A US warship has crossed the Taiwan Strait, the US Navy said Thursday, the day after a warning from a commander claiming to fear an invasion of the territory by China by 2027.
The Arleigh Burkede-class guided-missile destroyer USS John Finn sailed the strait between mainland China and Taiwan on Wednesday, the U.S. 7th Fleet said.
The third such operation since the inauguration of US President Joe Biden is intended to “show the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific zone,” she said in a statement.
Beijing claims almost all of the islands in the South China Sea and regularly complains about American operations in this sector, the scene of a struggle for influence with Washington.
Several neighboring countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam are also contesting certain Chinese claims in this area, a key route for global maritime trade.
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This stint took place the day the commander of US forces in the region, Admiral Philip Davidson, said he feared a growing military threat from China.
“I fear that they are accelerating their plan to supplant the United States (…) by 2050”, declared Mr. Davidson, head of the Indo-Pacific military command (Indopacom) before a commission of the US Senate.
“It is clear that Taiwan is part of their ambitions and I think the threat is evident in the next decade, in fact the next six years.”
Taiwan has 23 million inhabitants. The island has been ruled since 1945 by a regime (the “Republic of China”) which took refuge there after the Communists’ victory in mainland China in 1949 at the end of the Chinese civil war.
The Beijing-based “People’s Republic of China” considers this territory to be one of its provinces. It threatens to use force in the event of a formal proclamation of independence on the island.
Since the arrival in power in Taiwan in 2016 of President Tsai Ing-wen, from a party considered traditionally hostile by Beijing, the People’s Republic of China has stepped up efforts to further isolate the island, by diplomatic, economic, but also military.
Last year, Chinese military planes made 380 incursions into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (Adiz).