The Royal Canadian Navy has crossed the Taiwan Strait after months of covert planning and training the sailors to protect their ship if required.
Three Chinese warships equipped with missiles and torpedoes surrounded the HMCS Ottawa as it sailed into the crowded and strategically significant body of water before dawn. For the duration of the 17-hour voyage, they mimicked Ottawa’s movements.
Canada traveled with the USS Ralph Johnson, a guided missile destroyer of the U.S. Navy, as part of what both nations refer to as a freedom of navigation exercise.
The Taiwan Strait, which separates Taiwan from mainland China, is 160 kilometers wide at its narrowest point. The Chinese government has previously referred to prior naval crossings as “stirring up trouble” and asserts sovereignty over both Taiwan and the Taiwan Strait.
At a news conference in June, Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, stated that China is steadfastly committed to defending its sovereignty, security, and the stability of the region.
A lot of countries, including Canada, want to keep the Strait open as a global waterway. China is the only country with exclusive jurisdiction over the 22-kilometer (12-nautical-mile) zone off its coast. It also asserts ownership of the area off Taiwan’s coast.
However, China does not have exclusive navigation rights outside of this region because it is a party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Artificial Islands and Disputed Claims
Yet, the HMCS Ottawa crew had been training for weeks before they left Esquimalt, British Columbia on Vancouver Island. These exercises covered how to react to torpedo and missile attacks, fire, collisions, and ship damage.
The Canadian maneuvers were also followed by a Taiwanese vessel, with just HMCS Ottawa standing between them.
A Chinese destroyer cut off the USS Chung Hoon, an American guided missile destroyer, in June as another Canadian frigate observed before to the September crossing.
Huge cargo ships and small fishing boats are packed into the Taiwan Strait. It necessitates regular horizon scanning and radar contact tracking for personnel in charge of HMCS Ottawa. The USS Ralph Johnson once unexpectedly changed course in response to a little white boat.
It appeared to be a fishing boat at first glance. Yet upon closer study, a peculiar radar system was discovered, raising the possibility that it might be a Chinese military covert surveillance craft.
China also has territorial claims in the South China Sea, thus Canada will keep practicing its freedom of navigation.
Additionally, it has created artificial islands and staked territorial claims in the area of the surrounding waters. In 2014 and 2016, it built more new island surface than all other nations combined in history on these islands, putting military equipment there.
The South China Sea claims made by China have been ruled illegal by the United States.
Source: CBC News