With the 70th anniversary of the founding of the CPC looming, and Beijing staking out a more aggressive trade stance Friday morning by threatening retaliatory tariffs, the US picked the best – or worst – time to provoke Beijing, when a Navy ship sailed through the Taiwan Strait in the Navy’s latest “freedom of navigation” operation, or ‘freeop’ on Friday.
As CNA points out, Washington has actually increased its antagonistic operations in the Taiwan Strait as tensions with Beijing have soared this year, and Friday’s mission risks stoking tensions even further, as Beijing has warned international powers not to interfere in its relationship with Taiwan, or risk provoking Beijing’s wrath.
Yet interfering is precisely what the US has done, and earlier this month, Beijing denounced the sale of $2.2 billion in weapons to Taiwan by the US. Beijing has been ramping up pressure to assert its sovereignty over the island, which it considers a wayward province.
Commander Reann Mommsen, a spokeswoman for the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, said the operation in the 111-mile wide waterway separating Taiwan from China “demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Mommsen identified the ship as the Green Bay, an amphibious transport dock ship, hinting at a possible marine transport to the controversial island. Typically, these missions are carried out using destroyer-class ships.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that the island’s military had a full grasp of the situation in the Strait and closely monitored it.Washington has no formal ties with Taiwan, but the US is bound by law to help defend the island nation should it be attacked. The US is also its primary source of arms.