Taiwan is becoming the focus of increased tensions not just between the United States and China but also with other countries across the world where support for Taiwan is growing due to Beijing’s heavy hand on the issue.
The US Navy, on Sunday, sent ships into the Taiwan Strait in pursuit of its mission of keeping open international waters to shipping and trade. The development comes after senior US Senator Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee visited Taipei on August 25th last.
A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry in Beijing has, on Sunday, condemned the transit of two US navy ships through the Taiwan Strait.
Newswires on Sunday confirmed that the USS Antietam, a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser as well as the USS Chancellorsville, another Ticonderoga-class cruiser had sailed into the increasingly contested waters between Taiwan and mainland China which a more aggressive Beijing has increasingly called its sovereign waters.
Ships monitored by Chinese military as they made their way through disputed waters off Taiwan
The move is reported as being monitored by China’s armed forces and comes amid mounting tensions between the United States as well as its allies and China, particularly over the status of Taiwan and its waters as well as the extended area of the South China Sea of which the strait is a part.
On Sunday, the 7th US Fleet issued a statement on the move and again reiterated the ongoing commitment of Washington to keeping the waters in the area open to international vessels
‘The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,’ the latest US statement iterated. ‘The United States military flies, sails and operates anywhere international law allows.’
Tensions remain elevated after the controversial visit of US Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier in August
In Beijing, the latest move is seen as a continuation of robust moves coming from Washington since the controversial visit of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi in early August and other visits by US lawmakers during the month.
Pelosi defies Communist China’s concerted campaign of intimidation and visits Taiwan sparking a crisis
The development comes after the area was the scene of unprecedented Chinese warfare drills in the aftermath of Ms Pelosi’s high-profile visit which included the use of live ammunition and during which Taiwan was surrounded by Chinese forces, at six points, which operated in proximity to the island.
Beijing accuses the United States of breaking faith with the One China principle agreed upon in 1978
A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing has accused the United States of failing to keep its international commitments to China under the One China principle agreed between the two countries, a diplomatic breakthrough in 1978 when Washington first recognised Beijing and renounced its recognition of Taipei.
The ministry said that it had noted the increasingly strong ties between the United States and Taiwan, an island formerly known as Formosa with a population of 23.57 million people.
The United States as well as other countries in the cold war era, up to the 1970s, recognised Taiwan as the Republic of China after the end of the 1949 civil war on the mainland when the Communist Party swept to power in Beijing and defeated nationalist Chinese forces moved to the island while still claiming sovereignty over the mainland.
The latest development comes after another controversial visit to Taiwan on August 25th by US Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn, the senior senator for the US state of Tennessee.
Senior senator from Tennessee, the latest visitor, described Taiwan as an ‘independent nation’ to hosts
Blackburn, formerly a member of the House of Representatives and a businesswoman, is also seen in America as a supporter of former US President Trump.
During her visit, Senator Blackburn met Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and was vehement in her support for the renegade island’s cause.
Senator Blackburn even went so far as to describe Taiwan as an ‘independent nation’ during her visit.
‘I will not be bullied by Communist China into turning my back on the island,’ she told her Taiwanese hosts.
China’s Foreign Minister warns off other countries from following up on the US ‘political performance’
The visit came after China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, warned other countries across the world not to imitate the ‘political performance’ seen by the United States.
However, it is being reported that parliamentarians from Germany are due to visit Taiwan in October with European Union representatives planning a trade mission at the end of 2022.
The heavy-handed approach of Chinese authorities towards Taiwan has led some Eastern European nations to become more vocal about the island’s cause.
China’s spat in Europe with Lithuania
In January, Lithuania, a member of the European Union, allowed Taiwan to open a diplomatic mission in the Baltic country and to style itself as the representative office of Taiwan rather than Taipei.
The move led to tense exchanges between China and the smaller state with China blocking exports from Lithuania and even moving to coordinate a European Union ban on car parts being procured from Lithuanian firms for use in products being exported to China.
Due to Beijing’s perceived heavy hand, the ongoing spat and tension also galvanised sentiment across Europe in support of the island state.
This sentiment has been particularly bolstered after the Russian-Ukraine war and China’s close alliance with Russia.