A US Coast Guard cutter made a rare solo transit through the Taiwan Strait on June 20, which came a day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken concluded his two-day visit to Beijing.
The US frequently sends ships through the Taiwan Strait, but US Navy warships typically make the transits. US Coast Guard cutters have sailed through the sensitive waterway in recent years but are usually accompanied by a Navy ship.
The US Navy’s Seventh Fleet announced the transit on Thursday, describing it as “routine,” but the maneuver comes amid heightened tensions between the US and China, and Beijing has become increasingly fed up with US military activity in the region. Chinese officials have condemned US transits of the Taiwan Strait as provocations.
The Chinese Coast Guard described the US transit as “public hype” and said its vessels tailed the cutter “all the way” through the Strait. According to Japan Times, the incident was the first known time that the Chinese Coast Guard responded to a foreign vessel sailing through the waterway as opposed to the Chinese military.
The Chinese Coast Guard vowed to “resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security, and maritime rights and interests.”
The US Coast Guard has vowed to increase its presence near China’s coast and is expected to soon start joint patrols with the Philippines in the South China Sea, which would potentially put the US vessels in confrontations with the Chinese Coast Guard.