A French naval vessel has made a rare voyage this month through the strategic Taiwan Strait, United States officials told Reuters, which is expected to be welcomed by America but escalates tensions with China.
While speaking on condition of anonymity, two US officials said a French warship had carried out a transit through the narrow waterway between Taiwan and China on April 6, according to Reuters news reports.
The passage, confirmed by Beijing, was a sign that the US allies were increasingly expressing the freedom of navigation in foreign waterways around China. This movement could also provide allowance to other American allies such as Australia and Japan to assert similar navigation operations near China’s waterways.
The French warship voyage through Taiwan Strait comes amid heightened tensions between Beijing and Washington. Taiwan is likely to be the main flashpoints in China-US relationship, which includes US sanctions, trade war, Chinese increasing military posture in the South China Sea, where American warship use to conduct patrols asserting freedom of navigation.
One US official identified the vessel as a French frigate Vendemiaire, stating it was then trailed by China’s military. The official stated as an outcome of the passage, Beijing notified France that it can no longer attend a naval parade to mark the 70 years since the founding of the Chinese navy. Warships from Australia, India and various others participated.
On Thursday, China said it had filed “stern representations” with the French government, what Beijing called it an “illegal” passage.
During a regular media conference, Chinese defence ministry spokesperson Ren Guoqiang said, “China’s military sent navy ships in accordance with the law and the rules to identify the French ship and warn it to leave.”
He added the Chinese military will stay alert to firmly safeguard China’s security and sovereignty. However, the French military chief of staff spokesperson refused to comment over his nation’s operational mission.