The Royal Navy said on Monday that a British warship was crossing the Taiwan Strait, a rare voyage by a non-U.S. Military vessel through the sensitive waterway that is likely to strain ties with Beijing.
“After a busy period of working with partners and allies in the East China Sea, we are now en route across the Taiwan Strait to visit Vietnam and the Vietnamese People’s Navy,” tweeted HMS Richmond, a deployed frigate. with the British Aircraft Carrier Strike Group.
Local media said it was the first time that a British warship had crossed the narrow waterway between Taiwan and mainland China.
The British Navy survey vessel HMS Enterprise transited the strait in 2019.
US warships regularly conduct “freedom of navigation” exercises in the strait and trigger angry reactions from Beijing, which claims Taiwan and the surrounding waters – and almost the entire South China Sea.
The United States and most other countries consider these areas to be international waters that should be open to all ships.
Until recently, Washington tended to be the main power that challenged Beijing by sailing through the Taiwan Strait.
But a growing number of U.S. allies have moved through the road as Beijing steps up its military threats to Taiwan and tightens its control over the contested South China Sea.
Canadian, French and Australian warships have all traveled through the Taiwan Strait in recent years, sparking protests from China.
Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng confirmed to reporters that a foreign vessel had sailed the waterway, but did not specify which country it was from.
The UK Ministry of Defense did not respond to a request for comment.
Taiwan’s 23 million people live under the constant threat of invasion by authoritarian China, which has vowed to take the island one day – by force if necessary.
Beijing has stepped up military, diplomatic and economic pressure on Taiwan since the election of President Tsai Ing-wen in 2016, who considers the island “already independent”.
Chinese military planes made a record 380 incursions into Taiwan’s defense area last year, and the number of incursions in the first eight months of this year has already exceeded 400.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)