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Canada to send more warships to Taiwan Strait as China claims ‘sovereign rights’

The Independent logo The Independent 06/12/2022 Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
TAIWAN-CHINA-US-CONFLICT © US NAVY/AFP via Getty Images TAIWAN-CHINA-US-CONFLICT

Canada will deploy more warships through the Taiwan Strait to contest China's claim on the international waters, the foreign minister said.

“We need to make sure that the question of the Taiwan Strait is clear and that it remains an international strait,” Canadian foreign minister Melanie Joly said in an interview with Financial Times.

Ottawa will continue to "enforce international rule-based order" when it comes to the nearly 200km stretch of water that separates Taiwan from mainland China, she said.

Ms Joly, who was present at the Nato foreign ministers' meeting in Bucharest, added: "And that’s why also we had a frigate going through the Taiwan Strait this summer, along with the Americans, [and] we’re looking to have more frigates going through it.”

China maintains that Taiwan is a part of its national territory, even though the island has been self-ruled since it split from the mainland in 1949 following a civil war. Beijing earlier this year told the US that the Xi Jinping government does not recognise the strait as international waters.

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Taiwan earlier in September asked Canada to continue sending its warships through the troubled waters in a show of support for the island nation as it braces for Chinese aggression.

Ms Joly said Canada was “committing to new military assets” in the Indo-Pacific to help ensure peace and stability. In its first Indo-Pacific strategy, Ottawa described Beijing as an “increasingly disruptive” global power.

"Canada will also continue to work with partners to push back against any unilateral actions that threaten the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, as well as the East and South China Seas," according to the Justin Trudeau government's new strategy.

Although Canada said it would remain consistent with the "one-China" policy, the administration will engage with Taiwan through trade and other means. The foreign minister insisted Ottawa would “challenge” China when necessary but “co-operate when we must” on issues such as climate change, nuclear non-proliferation and global health issues.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning at a briefing said China always "respects the navigational rights of other countries" but holds "sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the Taiwan Strait".

Ms Mao added: "China always respects the navigational rights that countries are entitled to in accordance with international law.

"However, we firmly reject any country’s provocation and threat against China’s sovereignty and security in the name of freedom of navigation."

Chinese state media CGTN in an op-ed said the recently released Indo-Pacific strategy is laced with language and objectives that “resemble” America’s “language on the matter”.

“The ‘boldness’ exhibited in Joly’s statement indicates that it has backup,” it said, adding that Ottawa has always relied on the US for "protection" even when a Canadian frigate sailed through the Taiwan Strait earlier this year.

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