Published On: Fri, Jun 21st, 2019

Two Canadian naval vessels sail through Taiwan Strait

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The ships sailed through the narrow waterway separating the Chinese mainland and Taiwan in a ‘freedom of navigation’ operation, the Taipei ministry says

Published 7:34 AM, June 21, 2019

Updated 7:37 AM, June 21, 2019

FREEDOM OF NAVIGATION. File photos of the frigate HMCS Regina (left) and support vessel Asterix, of the Canadian navy. Photos from Wikipedia

FREEDOM OF NAVIGATION. File photos of the frigate HMCS Regina (left) and support vessel Asterix, of the Canadian navy. Photos from Wikipedia

TAIPEI, Taiwan – Two Canadian naval vessels sailed through the Taiwan Strait, Taipei’s and Canada’s defense ministries said, in the latest naval passage likely to irk Beijing.

The ships sailed through the narrow waterway separating the Chinese mainland and Taiwan in a “freedom of navigation” operation, the Taipei ministry said in a statement issued late Wednesday, June 19, without providing any details.

The next morning, however, Canada’s military downplayed the voyage, saying: “Transit through the Taiwan Strait is not related to making any statement.”

The frigate , it said in a statement, had come from a visit to Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay and were headed to Northeast Asia to join “a multinational effort to counter North Korea’s evasion of UN Security Council sanctions by maritime smuggling.”

“The most practical route between Cam Ranh Bay and Northeast Asia involves sailing through the Taiwan Strait.”

Taipei said that Taiwan’s military had closely monitored the “movements of the relevant aircraft and vessels in the region” as the ships passed through the strait.

The warship and its supporting vessel, the Canadian military said, will carry out further visits in the region as part of an operation to project Canada’s global military capabilities and in cooperation with security partners, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), before returning to Canada.

Relations between China and Canada have deteriorated since December when police in Vancouver detained Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on a US arrest warrant.

Days later China arrested two Canadians – former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor – in what is widely seen as a tit-for-tat move.

China has also blocked Canadian agricultural shipments worth billions of dollars.

It was the latest such naval voyage in the Taiwan Strait in recent months.

Beijing lodged a protest with Washington in May after a US destroyer and a supply ship sailed through the strait amid rising tensions between the two powers.

US warships periodically conduct “freedom of navigation” exercises in the waterway, triggering angry responses from Beijing every time.

Beijing views any ships passing through the strait as essentially a breach of its sovereignty — while the US and many other nations view the route as international waters open to all.

China sees Taiwan as part of its territory, despite the two sides being ruled separately since the end of a civil war on the mainland in 1949.

In April, China said its navy warned off a French warship that had entered the Taiwan Strait earlier that month and lodged an official complaint with Paris. – Rappler.com

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