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Beijing Calls US ‘Biggest Destroyer of Peace’ After Seventh Taiwan Strait Transit This Year

© Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Deanna C. GonzalesThe Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65) transits the Taiwan Strait while conducting routine underway operations.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65) transits the Taiwan Strait while conducting routine underway operations. - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.07.2021
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Like the vast majority of nations, the US has switched its recognition of the legitimate Chinese government from Taipei to Beijing, but also continues to funnel military equipment to Taiwan. Staged events like Wednesday’s transit of the Taiwan strait, the seventh this year, are meant to show a willingness to defend the island from Chinese attack.
After the latest transit of the Taiwan Strait by a US warship, China’s Ministry of National Defense has lashed out, denouncing the action as provocative and dangerous. It comes just days after two US government aircraft landed on Taiwan, which China considers Chinese territory.
“The frequent implementation of similar provocative acts by the United States fully demonstrates that the United States is the biggest destroyer of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the biggest maker of security risks across the Taiwan Strait,” Army Senior Colonel Shi Yi, spokesperson for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command, said in a Thursday statement posted on its WeChat page.
Shi added the American warship, the destroyer USS Benfold, was tracked and shadowed by Chinese air and sea forces as it sailed through the waterway that separates Taiwan from mainland China. He noted troops of the Eastern Theater were “ready to respond to all threats and provocations” and would defend China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Beijing considers Taiwan a part of China and a province in rebellion, meaning its dispute with the autonomous government in Taipei is a purely internal affair. That government is all that remains of the old Republic of China, a state that existed from 1912 to 1949, when the communist Red Army was victorious and established the People’s Republic of China in the national capital of Beijing.
​Last year, 15 US warships crossed the strait, while the year before they did so nine times, according to data collected by Collin Koh, a research fellow from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University. So far this year, seven transits have been recorded.
“The ship's transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the US Seventh Fleet said in a statement about the Benfold’s actions. “The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows.”
Speaking earlier this week in Singapore, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin condemned what he called "Beijing's unwillingness to resolve disputes peacefully and respect the rule of law,” including “destabilizing military activity and other forms of coercion against the people of Taiwan” among a slew of other accusations.
He likely referred to the regular air drills run by the PLA Air Force in the Philippine Sea and South China Sea, which at times cross over into Taiwan’s unusually large air defense identification zone (ADIZ). The region of airspace has no legal meaning, but Taiwan regularly scrambles aircraft to intercept Chinese planes and warn them away before they enter Taiwanese territory, which the Western media then reports as a Chinese incursion against Taiwan.
© Federation of American ScientistsA graphic showing the self-declared Air Defense Identification Zones (ADIZ) of Taiwan, South Korea and Japan
A graphic showing the self-declared Air Defense Identification Zones (ADIZ) of Taiwan, South Korea and Japan - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.09.2021
A graphic showing the self-declared Air Defense Identification Zones (ADIZ) of Taiwan, South Korea and Japan
While Washington previously kept its support for Taiwan quiet, in recent years it has become more willing to directly flout Chinese claims of control over the island, including landing US aircraft there. Last week, a US military aircraft likely chartered by the CIA flew from the Philippines to Taiwan, and days before that, a US Air Force cargo plane made a similar trip from the US air base on Okinawa, Japan. In June, another cargo plane brought several sitting US senators to the island. 
Beijing condemned these actions, which it calls “salami-slicing” because while none are cause for conflict, they add up to something greater when put together.
"Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory, we solemnly urge the US side to stop playing with fire and immediately quit such hazardous provocative actions," Senior Colonel Wu Qian, a spokesperson for China's Ministry of National Defense, said in a statement at the time. “The US is now playing with fire and must stop any risky and provocative actions immediately.”
Beijing fears that US actions will encourage the separatist-minded Democratic Progressive Party currently in power in Taipei to make a play for independence, and promised that if such a declaration is made, there will be war.
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