British Warship Makes a Rare Passage of Taiwan Strait

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A British warship transited the Taiwan Strait as China continues its military pressure upon Taiwan.

The Royal Navy’s HMS Richmond announced on Twitter its latest whereabouts on Sept. 27. “After a busy period working with partners and allies in the East China Sea,” it said, “we are now en route through the Taiwan Strait to visit Vietnam and the Vietnam People’s Navy.”

The brief post drew a rebuke from the Chinese military’s Eastern Theater Command the same day.

The spokesperson for the command, Shi Yi, criticized the passage on its official WeChat account as a “public hype-up,” saying the UK “just validated its existence.” He said the command forces would maintain a high degree of alert, vowing to “counteract any threat or provocation.”

For years the Chinese communist regime has claimed Taiwan as part of its territory. However, the communist regime has never held rule over Taiwan. Moreover, Beijing has threatened to use force to bring the island under its control. In recent years, the Chinese authorities exerted mounting military pressure on Taiwan by flying warplanes into its air defense identification zone.

Data shows the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) fighters have invaded Taiwan’s airspace for 188 days so far this year, causing 526 radio warnings. This far exceeds last year’s total of 380, according to the Southwest Airspace of TW, a website documenting military activity in the area.

In response to China’s aggressiveness, the United States, United Kingdom, and Japan have strengthened their ties with Taiwan.

Britain sent its carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to the Indo-Pacific region in May 2021, as part of a UK-led freedom of navigation operation. The voyage was heralded as a warning against Beijing’s bullying of its neighbors in the region.

Admiral Tony Radakin, a senior Royal Navy officer, told Nikkei Asia in mid-September that the UK would station two new patrol vessels in the Indo-Pacific region at least over the next five years as part of the United States and its allies’ efforts to curb the CCP’s military expansion.

Radakin stressed that Taiwan is clearly “part of the free and open Indo-Pacific.”

“It is a waterway that can be used by different nations,” he said.

HMS Richmond is a Type 23 frigate, part of the Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier strike group. It was first deployed in 1997 to the Far East.

By Frank Yue

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