China has demanded that the United States cancel its agreement with Taiwan on the supply of weapons worth 108 million dollars and end military cooperation with Taipei, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Ministry said on Monday. Defense, Tan Kefei.
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Earlier in July, the US State Department approved the sale of military equipment worth $108 million to Taiwan. This will be the fifth arms sale to the Taiwan region since Joe Biden took office in January 2021.
China firmly opposes US arms sales to Taiwan and urges the United States to cancel the arms sales plan, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at the press briefing. Monday.
“China demands that the United States immediately withdraw its plan to sell arms to Taiwan, cut all military ties with the island; otherwise, the responsibility for the destruction of relations between Beijing and Washington, as well as peace and stability in Taiwan, will rest entirely with the United States,” said Tan Kefei, quoted by the ministry and reported by the agency of Sputnik press.
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Earlier, the US guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold entered the South China Sea off the disputed Paracel Islands on July 13 in what was seen as a provocation by the Chinese military. The United States, however, has said it will continue to operate anywhere international law allows, including in the South China Sea.
However, this is not the first time that the two countries have fought over navigation rights. The US Navy regularly conducts freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) criticized by China’s PLA Navy, which claims sovereignty over most of the South China Sea.
In January 2022, the same American destroyer USS Benfold transited near the Paracel Islands, called the Xisha Islands in China, drawing Chinese anger. The Paracel Islands are one of many disputed islands between China and other Southeast Asian countries, as reported by EurAsian Times.
The islands, which have been under Chinese control for more than 46 years, are claimed by both Vietnam and Taiwan. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has built military installations on the islands.
However, US-China tensions in the region run deeper than these sporadic incidents.
The entire Indo-Pacific region, including the South China Sea, is the biggest flashpoint between China, which wants to play the role of global superpower, and the United States, which wants to contain China’s rise to preserve the status quo. China’s rise as a superpower goes through the Indo-Pacific route.
The United States also recognizes China’s military power and has accepted that the PLA Navy is the largest in the world in terms of fleet size, and its arsenal at sea is only growing.
Routine FONOPs are a subtle US message to China that the US Navy still has a strong presence in the region. We go back to the year it all started: 2010.
The very first US naval appearance that angered China
In 2010, after former US President Barack Obama took office, the US became aware of China’s growing power and authoritarianism in the region. Prior to this, American attention was primarily focused on the Middle East.
Between 2000 and 2005, the size of the PLA Navy’s force doubled in the most striking display of its shipbuilding capability. When President Obama took office, he turned his attention to China, whose military was steadily growing and challenging the Asia-Pacific status quo.
Between June 30 and July 5, 2010, the PLA conducted “live-fire drills” in a tiny box-shaped area of China’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the East China Sea. The main objective of these exercises was to demonstrate the ability to attack surface ships and carrier battle groups.
The live-fire drills, which saw China test sophisticated missiles, were an attempt to pressure the US Navy into calling off operations involving a carrier battle group with its South Korean counterpart in areas near territorial waters. and the exclusive economic zone of China.
However, it was an alarming development for the United States. In protest against Chinese missile testing in the East China Sea, three US Navy ballistic missile nuclear submarines (SSGNs) reportedly emerged almost simultaneously in July 2010 in the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans.
The USS Michigan appeared in Busan, South Korea, the USS Ohio was sighted in Subic Bay in the Philippines, and the USS Florida came to sit in the strategic outpost of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. It was one of the first US military postures to counter China’s growing assertiveness in the region.
The major missile tests have been provocative and troubling for the United States and its allies in the region. Following the Chinese tests, the United States wanted to show its strength by demonstrating the potential force that could be employed in the event of a military escalation.
Forrest Morgan, an analyst for the RAND Corporation, says military posture is one of the important elements of crisis stability, as The National Interest previously noted.
The submarines seemed adept at behaving as if Washington were saying to Beijing, “Of course, you could surprise us with your missiles. But we remember that we have many missiles of our own — and they are not far from you.
Later that year, in November 2010, North Korea fired artillery shells at South Korea, causing tension between the two. While the world, including Russia, denounced North Korea’s actions, its closest ally China refused to take the blame. This incident could be marked as the start of the US-China rivalry.
The practice of military posturing has continued to this day, with China joining the bandwagon against the United States. In 2012, the Obama administration adopted the “pivot to Asia” policy and began investing heavily in the region, and declared that China had overlapping territorial claims. in the South China Sea.
Freedom of navigation
US Navy freedom of navigation operations involve transits through waters that coastal states claim exclusively as their own.
According to the US Department of Defense (DoD), the FON program has been in existence for 40 years and “has continually reaffirmed the policy of the United States to exercise and assert its rights and freedoms of navigation and overflight in the world”.
However, this has become a routine issue between the United States and China in the Indo-Pacific region. China claims nearly all of the South China Sea as its sovereign territory and views Taiwan as its rogue province awaiting reunification with mainland China.
Thus, US warships or submarines passing through the waters of the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait elicit an angry response from China. Taiwan’s autonomy became an exhausting issue between China and the United States last year.
With tensions between the two rivals running high in the region, US FONOPs are seen primarily as a military posturing. However, China has also proactively pursued the subtle strategy of power projection.
During President Joseph Biden’s first visit to Asia this year, the PLA carried out extensive exercises in the South China Sea. Prior to this, his Liaoning Carrier Strike Group had transited the Miyako Strait near Japan and entered the Western Pacific to conduct military training.
Not only that, he also faked an invasion of Taiwan – a deal breaker for the United States.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that as the two states become more aggressive towards each other and China’s hostile expansion continues, the military posture and freedom of navigation operations of the Seventh American fleet will only continue.
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