A day after the British newspaper Financial Times revealed that China had tested a hypersonic missile with a nuclear capability that surprised American intelligence, the United States said on Sunday (17) that they had carried out a military exercise with Canada in the Straits of Taiwan last week.
The announcement has heightened tensions with China, which maintains its position of reconnecting Taiwan, considered by Beijing to be a rebel province — but which in practice has complete administrative autonomy.
According to US military personnel, the USS Dewey guided missile destroyer, of the Arleigh Burke type, of the United States, and the Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg passed through the strait that divides mainland China from the island of Taiwan between Thursday (14) and Friday (15).
“The transit of Dewey and Winnipeg across the Taiwan Straits demonstrates the commitment of the United States and our allies and partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” US military personnel said Sunday.
The Chinese government reacted to the announcement, saying the military exercises threaten peace and stability in the region. Xi Jinping’s regime has made repeated military incursions through the so-called Adiz, Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. Adiz includes an area that extends beyond Taiwan’s airspace but is monitored and patrolled by the island’s government.
In all, 150 Chinese aircraft entered Adiz in just four days earlier this month, raising the temperature between Beijing and Taipei. The aircraft, however, did not enter Taiwan’s airspace and were concentrated only in the southwestern part of the identification zone.
In response to Sunday’s US announcement, the China People’s Liberation Army Eastern Joint Command said it monitored foreign ships and stood guard during the crossing.
“The United States and Canada have joined together to provoke and cause trouble, seriously compromising peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits,” the military agency said. “Taiwan is part of Chinese territory. Command forces always maintain high alert and resolutely oppose all threats and provocations.”
This Sunday, the Taiwan Ministry of Defense said that China has re-entered Adiz, this time with three aircraft, two J-16 fighters and an anti-submarine equipment.
The US navy has been crossing the straits almost monthly, to the irritation of Beijing, which accuses Washington of fueling regional tensions. Allies of the United States, such as the United Kingdom, sometimes accompany American forces.
The announcement of the exercises comes on the heels of the revelation of the China-tested hypersonic missile in August, which circled the Earth before accelerating toward its target, demonstrating an advanced military capability that took US intelligence by surprise. This type of missile flies at five times the speed of sound and is maneuverable, making it harder to track.