US Navy Patrol Aircraft Flies Through Taiwan Strait Following Warning from China

U.S. Navy patrol plane flies through Taiwan Strait amid high-level talks with China, highlighting tensions over the island's status.

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U.S. Navy Patrol Aircraft Flies Through Taiwan Strait Amid Tensions with China

U.S. Navy Patrol Aircraft Flies Through Taiwan Strait Amid Tensions with China

A U.S. Navy patrol aircraft flew through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, just hours after a conversation between the Chinese and U.S. defense chiefs in which Beijing warned Washington of the ultra-sensitive nature of the Taiwan issue. The U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet said the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance plane transited the 180-km wide waterway that separates Taiwan from China in international airspace.

The flight came shortly after U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with Chinese Defense Minister Admiral Dong Jun for over an hour, their first dialogue in nearly 17 months. During the call, Austin emphasized the importance of open military-to-military communication and respect for freedom of movement, especially in the South China Sea. Dong stressed that the Taiwan issue is a "core of China's core interests" and the Chinese military will not tolerate any "Taiwan independence" activities.

Military-to-military contact between the U.S. and China had stalled after then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan in August 2022, which China claims as its own. The two sides have been working to expand communications and ease tensions, with the first senior military-to-military contact since the Pelosi visit occurring in November 2022. Austin and Dong also discussed Russia's war in Ukraine, concerns about North Korea, and the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

Why this matters:The U.S. Navy's flight through the Taiwan Strait amid high-level U.S.-China talks highlights the delicate balance and potential for miscalculation in the region. The Taiwan issue remains a major source of tension between the two powers, with China viewing it as a core interest and the U.S. supporting Taiwan's self-defense capabilities.

Taiwan's Defense Ministry has reported increased Chinese military activity in recent days, including fighter jets crossing the sensitive median line of the Taiwan Strait. In response to the Chinese missions, Taiwan sent aircraft, naval ships, and deployed air defense missile systems to monitor the People's Liberation Army activity. The U.S. has maintained that it will continue to freely sail and fly in international waters, including the disputed South China Sea and Taiwan Strait, despite China's claims and growing military presence in the region.

Key Takeaways

  • U.S. Navy patrol plane flew through Taiwan Strait after U.S.-China defense chiefs' call.
  • China warned U.S. that Taiwan is a "core of China's core interests" during the call.
  • U.S.-China military-to-military contact had stalled after Pelosi's Taiwan visit in 2022.
  • Taiwan reported increased Chinese military activity near the Taiwan Strait in recent days.
  • U.S. maintains it will continue to freely sail and fly in international waters despite China's claims.