Two US Destroyers Sail Into Taiwan Strait For First Time Since 2007

While most are keeping track of the tariffs the US imposes on China, or how Beijing retaliates as part of the now official trade war that started at midnight on Friday, July 6, a just as significant, if less overt diplomatic feud is being waged in parallel.

Here, some speculate that today's news of North Korea's response to the ongoing discussions with the US, in which an envoy said that North Korea's "resolve for denuclearization may falter", is a direct consequence of China - which was the puppetmaster behind and greenlighted the Trump-Kim summit - urging Kim to fade Pyongyang's eagerness to engage Trump as "punishment" for Washington's belligerent attitude toward China. Alternatively, one can argue that China is merely responding to the latest diplomatic escalation by the US, which reportedly is preparing to deploy marines to the US embassy in Taiwan for the first time in effect legitimizing the US negation of a "One China Policy", a step which would further inflame tensions between DC and Beijing.

Now, in yet another diplomatic tit-for-tat which could be Trump's latest attempt to further provoke and antagonize Beijing, two US warships entered the Taiwan Strait on Saturday, the Taiwanese government said. A strategically-timed event, this was the first time US navy ships entered Taiwan Strait since November 2007.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold, photo credit AFP

The destroyers USS Mustin and USS Benfold sailed into the narrow waterway separating Taiwan and China on Saturday morning and were expected to continue on a northeast course, Taiwan's defense ministry said in a statement.

"The military is monitoring the situation in neighbouring areas, and has the confidence and abilities to maintain regional stability and defend national security," the statement added, clearly eyeing the inevtiable Chinese response.

According to AFP, a defense ministry official said the ships were still in the strait on Saturday night, sailing in what he described as international waters, even though China may disagree.

This latest US intervention in what China deems its domestic affairs, in addition to the ongoing trade war of course, is sure to prompt an angry response by Beijing: China sees self-ruling democratic Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified, by force if necessary but the island sees itself as a sovereign country. The two sides split in 1949 after a civil war.

Although the US does not have official diplomatic relations with Taiwan as part of the tenuous "One China" agreement, it remains Taiwan's most powerful ally and biggest arms supplier. Meanwhile, as part of its aggressive push to define its territorial claims, often amid brief but vocal diplomatic clashes with the US, China has stepped up diplomatic and military pressure on Taiwan since Beijing-sceptic President Tsai Ing-wen took office two years ago as her government refuses to acknowledge that the island is part of "one China."

In April, Beijing has staged a string of military exercises, including a live-fire drill in Taiwan, which it said were aimed at Taiwan's "independence forces", followed up by an "Island Encirclement" war drill over Taiwan as part of its campaign to spook Taiwan into submission. In turn, Taiwan responded by holding massive life-fire drills simulating a Chinese invasion.

Beijing has also successfully lured away four of Taiwan's diplomatic allies since Tsai came to power, leaving only 18 countries in the world that recognise Taipei over Beijing, according to AFP.  More recently, a growing number of international airlines and companies were also forced to change Taiwan's name to "Taiwan, China" or "Chinese Taipei" due to pressure from Beijing.

Sensing which way the winds of territorial expansion change are blowing, Taiwan's president Tsai has criticised China for attempting to change the status quo between the two sides and urged the world to "constrain" its ambitions. At the start of the year, Tsai warned on several occasions that China’s escalating efforts to assert its authority over the island risked destabilizing the broader region.

But most of all, Beijing is incensed by the recent warming in relations between the US and Taiwan, after President Trump signed legislation paving the way for mutual visits by top officials and the US government approved a license required to sell submarine technology to Taiwan.

As such, it is safe to assume that China's diplomatic response to Taiwan, as well as its ongoing masterminding of the US-N.Korea peace process, will be closely tied to the extent that Trump pushes China into a corner in the parallel, economic trade feud. And, should Trump provoke Beijing too far, it is likely that not only will any further negotiations with Kim could be terminally compromised, but that the US will suddenly find a brand new geopolitical hotspot on its hands in Taiwan.

And now we await China's retaliation, not to whatever new tariff Trump plans to slap on Chinese trade, but to the US Navy's provocative show of force in what China considers its own back yard.



???ö? Sat, 07/07/2018 - 17:53 Permalink

Trump message to Communist China regarding North Korea:  We can do it the nice way, or we can do it the not so nice way.  It's up to you.

Deep Snorkeler powow Sat, 07/07/2018 - 18:39 Permalink

The American Empire

the first empire to dominate limitless space

the first to dominate the deepest oceans

the first to bomb deep earth

the first to be defeated by illiterate agrarians with IEDs

I got a pigfoot and a bottle of beer


In reply to by powow

Sigh. powow Sat, 07/07/2018 - 22:34 Permalink

ROC Taiwan is more like USA (the MAGA wing); PRC People's Republic of China are more like our modern Democrats.

Taiwan elected a strong female President who had the nerve to contact Trump after his surprise election and congratulate him, and he had the gall to take her call. Our own PRC-wannabe Democrats hit the roof.

Eff them, and eff Red PRC China. Goddam Commies.

In reply to by powow

Winston Churchill ???ö? Sat, 07/07/2018 - 18:17 Permalink

There is no other way,unless the US wants millions dead in collateral "damage".

Talking of collateral damage, I hope all merchantmen in the area were given enough warning

to get out of the way of these unguided warships ,they seem manned on a quota basis rather than any

seamanship skills.Maybe fly pink pantyhose  from the yardarm in any future sorties ?

The only worse sailors frequent ZH.

In reply to by ???ö?

CashMcCall ???ö? Sat, 07/07/2018 - 20:16 Permalink

Another TrumpTard bully moment.. from the Heel Spurs Draft Dodging Coward's spokesTard. I really am sick and tired of you TrumpTurds claiming Trump is tougher than a $2 steak. He's a flaming draft dodging pussy. 

In reply to by ???ö?

algol_dog Sat, 07/07/2018 - 17:53 Permalink

" to maintain regional stability and defend national security" 


- Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs

   in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.


bahian Sat, 07/07/2018 - 18:01 Permalink

The "narrow" strait is 180 km. across. Must ZH put an anti-US a slant on everything? This is not a private (Red) Chinese lake but international waters.  Territorial waters or a territorial sea, as defined by the 2013 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, is a belt of coastal waters extending at most 12 nautical miles (22.2 km; 13.8 mi) 

bahian Pendolino Sat, 07/07/2018 - 18:48 Permalink

I don't know of the Russians building artificial islands to extend their maritime claims. The Chinese regime  needs to met with firm resistance. Haven't we enough examples in history of where it leads if we allow them to push continually. Would you want to be forcibly "reunited" with the mainland if you were a Taiwanese.

In reply to by Pendolino

you know they … bahian Sat, 07/07/2018 - 21:40 Permalink

You really think the Taiwan people care who they are governed by? I mean, it doesn't matter. What people want is a decent life, with just enough work, balanced with just enough luxuries. Any government that provides that, will keep it's people happy.

This is not about the Taiwan people. This is about which mafia controls the riches. The US has proven time and time again, they do not care about slave labor, or any other hardships they impose, on other countries, or even their own people. The US is a mafia. It's only concern is losing money.

And yes, I actually do believe that if the US had thought of it first, they would be building up artificial islands, so as to claim more empire. But they went a different route. They decided to just overthrow whole governments, and steal their resources. 

In reply to by bahian