Defying Beijing, US Navy Warship Sails Taiwan Strait

Less than two weeks after a Chinese fighter pilot engaged a US Air Force spy plane over the disputed Paracel Islands, the American guided-missile destroyer Chung-Hoon made a provocative trip through the Taiwan Strait.

On Thursday, January 5, an Arleigh Burke-class warship sailed solo through the narrow passage, which separates the People’s Republic of China from the fractured state of Taiwan. The US considers the strait open to international travel. Beijing claims sovereign rights to what it calls an internal waterway.

“The ship passed through a passage in the Strait that is outside the territorial sea of ​​any coastal state,” read a communiqué issued by the US Indo-Pacific Command on Thursday afternoon. “Chung-Hoon’s transfer through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free Indo-Pacific. The United States military flies, launches and operates anywhere international law allows.”

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Chung-Hoon normally serves as an anti-ballistic missile escort in the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group.

Neither Chinese diplomats nor the state-controlled military press responded to Chung-Hoon’s transit, and Indo-Pacom provided few details about the incident.

Taiwan Strait

jg Alec Paagach stands watch as Junior Officer on Deck aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Chung-Hoon (DDG 93). Chung-Hoon, part of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, is currently underway in the 7th Fleet area of ​​operations. US Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Andre T. Richard.

But Taiwan’s foreign ministry revealed that the US destroyer sailed north, from the South China Sea to the East China Sea. Taiwanese forces monitored the transit, and said the Chinese military made no attempt to engage the US warship, making the situation appear “normal”.

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That was not the case near the Paracel Islands on 21 December.

Indo-Pacific Command The pilot of a Chinese J-11BSH Shenyan (Flanker-L+) claims a near collision with a Rivet Joint US RC-135V reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea earlier that day, but did not provide many details about the incident, other than to note that the interceptor came within 20 feet of the nose of the plane.

On December 31, the China Southern Theater Command released an 18-second video with many other tidbits. on social media who claimed that the American reconnaissance aircraft “deliberately changed the altitude of the flight” and “came dangerously close to our plane” before the “death” of the pilot Shenyan, who swerved to avoid a collision.

Taiwan Strait

Chinese forces off Fiery Cross Reef in the South China Sea monitor the US guided-missile destroyer Chancellorsville on Nov. 29, 2022. South Theater Command photo.

Chung-Hoon’s transit seemed to raise the temperature in the already simmering sea.

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After analysis US aviation datathe Chinese non-profit South China Marine Research Initiative It was announced on Tuesday that US spy planes conducted 68 sorties in December, 17 more than American forces launched in November.

On November 29, a US Navy guided missile cruiser Old hall run a freedom of navigation operation — FONOP — near Fiery Cross ReefSouth China Sea atoll fortified by China.

The US shadowed a US warship during the mission P-8A Poseidon maritime reconnaissance jet, drawing of the a rare hard message from the Southern Theater Command that American forces had “trespassed” on Chinese sovereign territory.

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