US Navy destroyer

China says it will respond to ‘all threats’ as US Navy destroyer USS John Finn sails through Taiwan Strait

China says it will respond to 'all threats' as US Navy destroyer USS John Finn sails through Taiwan Strait

Cheryl Teh

·5 min read
uss john finn
The USS John Finn sailed through the Taiwan Strait on March 10, conducting “routine” operations in the area. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jason Waite / US Navy 7th Fleet
  • The missile destroyer USS John Finn has sailed through the Taiwan Strait, triggering Beijing’s ire.

  • This is the third sailing of a US Navy destroyer through the highly-contentious area since Biden took office.

  • China has responded to the destroyer’s presence, vowing a swift response to all threats.

  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A US Navy destroyer has sailed through the Taiwan Strait in what it calls a “routine” exercise – a move that has once again triggered Beijing’s ire.

According to a statement from the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John Finn was conducting a routine transit per international law.

“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military will continue to fly, sail, and operate anywhere international law allows,” the statement said.

The Chinese government has issued a strong response to the destroyer’s passage through the strait, Sina News reported.

“This move by the US Navy has artificially created risk factors across the Taiwan Strait and deliberately undermined regional peace and stability. We firmly oppose this,” the government’s statement read. “Our troops in the theater are always on high alert and are ready to respond to all threats and provocations.”

The strait is a 180-km wide body of water that separates Taiwan and continental Asia. It’s a widely contested area as it links the South China Sea to the East China Sea in the north.

The US and its allies view it as international waters, and US warships are known to regularly conduct exercises in the strait, many of which trigger Beijing’s ire.

This is the third time a US warship has traveled through the strait since Biden took office, according to Taiwan News.

In early February, the USS John S. McCain sailed through the Taiwan Strait to carry out an operation near the Paracel Islands.

At the time, the Chinese protested the destroyer’s passage through the strait and were “closely monitoring” the ship.

On February 25, the USS Curtis Wilbur also traversed the waterway.

The USS John Finn’s transit happened as Beijing accused Admiral Philip Davidson of attempting to “hype up” the military threat that China posed. Davidson is a four-star admiral in the US Navy and is currently serving as the 25th commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command.

Davidson had warned at a Senate committee hearing a day earlier that an invasion of Taiwan could be “imminent,” and happen within the next six years to a decade.

“I worry that [China] is accelerating their ambitions to supplant the United States and our leadership role in the rules-based international order… by 2050,” Davidson said, according to The Guardian.

China’s President Xi Jinping has been open about his intention to “reunite” China with Taiwan, and his plans appear to have escalated over the past year. According to an SCMP report, People’s Liberation Army jets made a record 380 incursions into Taiwan’s airspace in 2020 alone.

In 2019, Xi said that taking Taiwan was “an inevitable requirement for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese people,” according to the BBC.

Lye Liang Fook, a senior fellow and the coordinator of the regional strategic and political studies program at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, said that the US was “sending a message that it is here to stay in the region,” by conducting operations in the Taiwan Strait so frequently.

“The message appears to be broader, implying that it is not just about Taiwan. It tells the world that the US is here to stay, and reinforces the view that even with the new Biden administration, there is in many ways a lot of continuity with the previous administration,” Lye said.

He added that the move to send destroyers to pass through the Taiwan Strait was a sign as well that the US views the region as a “critical area” that is in line with its long-term interests.

“It is an indication as well that the US actively supports the rule of law in the region, and is against the use of the “might is right” approach. In the long-term, the US would be interested in maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific, and resolving differences through negotiation and peaceful resolution,” Lye added.

Peking University professor Zha Daojiong, an academic at the college’s school of international studies, told Insider that the Chinese have the right to “monitor the movement,” presuming these are “innocent passage operations, as defined by international maritime law.”

According to UN conventions, the right of “innocent passage” refers to a vessel’s right to enter a territory as long as it does not prejudice the peace, good order, or security of other states.

“However, this is not the first time a US Naval vessel has moved through the Taiwan Strait. But such an operation, as long as it constitutes an innocent passage, is in line with Chinese laws on the country’s maritime space,” said Zha.

Insider has reached out to the US Navy for comment.

Read the original article on Insider

Another US Navy destroyer challenged China in the South China Sea by sailing past contested islands without asking permission

Another US Navy destroyer challenged China in the South China Sea by sailing past contested islands without asking permission


The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59) transits the Pacific Ocean
Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Russell in the Pacific Ocean. 
US Navy
  • The US Navy sent a destroyer to challenge “unlawful” restrictions by China and others in the South China Sea.
  • The destroyer USS Russell sailed through the contested Spratly Islands without asking permission.
  • This is the second such operation in less than two weeks, suggesting these operations will continue being routine under the Biden administration.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Russell sailed through the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on Wednesday, challenging China’s demands that foreign military vessels ask for permission before sailing through the area, the Navy said.

The Spratly Islands are contested territories in the South China Sea. China, which claims almost all of the 1.3 million-square-mile waterway, has built up its military presence in this area, constructing fortified outposts on artificial reefs.

The Spratlys are also claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines, some of which put restrictions on the operations of foreign military vessels, as China does.

The US Navy characterizes “unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea” as a “serious threat to freedom of the sea.”

The latest freedom-of-navigation operation “upheld the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law by challenging unlawful restrictions on innocent passage imposed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan,” the Navy’s 7th Fleet said in a statement.

Spratly islands map

“China, Vietnam, and Taiwan require either permission or advance notification before a foreign military vessel engages in ‘innocent passage’ through the territorial sea,” the Navy said. “By engaging in innocent passage without giving prior notification to or asking permission from any of the claimants, the United States challenged these unlawful restrictions.”

The operation on Wednesday followed a similar one conducted less than two weeks ago by the destroyer USS John McCain. The warship carried out a freedom-of-navigation operation in the Paracel Islands, contested territory where China also has a growing military presence.

The Chinese Defense Ministry expressed frustration with the operation and said naval and air assets were deployed to drive away the US destroyer. China considers such operations to be violations of sovereignty.

As it has before, the Navy said in its latest statement that “the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows.” Freedom-of-navigation operations have become fairly routine for the service despite pushback from China.

In addition to the freedom-of-navigation operations, the US Navy sent a warship through the Taiwan Strait and had two carrier strike groups operating together in the South China Sea in recent weeks, sparking complaints from Beijing.

The Trump administration dramatically stepped up competition with China, and there are expectations that this will continue under the new Biden administration.

President Joe Biden has described China as the “most serious competitor” and said the US is in “extreme competition” with China.

Biden recently announced the establishment of the “China Task Force” at the Department of Defense, which says the aim is “countering Chinese efforts” to “overturn the current rules-based structure” and use “all elements of national power to bend the nations to its will.”

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has called China the “pacing threat” for the US, and a planned force posture review is expected to focus heavily on the US position in the Indo-Pacific region.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby recently stressed how seriously the secretary takes the “pacing challenge that China poses,” telling reporters that it’s important to take a “fresh look as we come in at what is in the Pacific.”

“What is the footprint both fixed and rotational, and what’s the health of our alliances and partnerships there? In other words, from our perspective are we doing enough?”