Ratcheting tensions in the region, the US sailed a warship through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday. The US Navy’s Seventh Fleet said the guided-missile destroyer USS John McCain made the provocative passage.
As usual, China said it tracked the vessel and denounced the US provocation. “The US move to send warship to sail through the Taiwan Strait and hype it publicly is an old trick to ‘manipulate’ the cross-Strait situation,” a spokesman for China’s People’s Liberation Army said in a statement.
The transit marks the fourth time the Biden administration sent a warship through the sensitive waterway. In 2020, the Trump administration sailed warships through the Taiwan Strait 13 times, the highest number of such passages since at least 2007.
Also on Wednesday, the US delivered warnings to China over actions near Taiwan and a dispute with the Philippines in the South China Sea. Since last September, Taiwan has been publicly disclosing Chinese military flights through the island’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ).
Taiwan’s defense ministry said 15 PLA aircraft flew through the ADIZ on Wednesday. While it makes for an alarming headline, the ADIZ is not the same as Taiwan’s airspace, and the planes flew through its southwest corner, which is usually the case.
When asked about the flights, US State Department spokesman Ned Price voiced “concern” and said, “The United States maintains the capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security or the social or economic system of the people on Taiwan.”
Price was also asked about a diplomatic row between China and the Philippines over Chinese vessels that have been moored near Whitson Reef in the disputed South China Sea. Manila claims the boats are a “maritime militia,” while China insists they are fishing vessels.
Price reminded China that an attack on Philippine ships in the region would mean war with the US. “An armed attack against the Philippines’ armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific, including in the South China Sea, will trigger our obligations under the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty,” he said.