US warship sails through Taiwan Strait amid spat with China

WION Web Team Delhi Mar 26, 2020, 09.52 PM(IST)

Taiwan-China Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

This could further escalate tensions because China views any passage through the Taiwan Strait as a breach of its sovereignty.

200 kilometres from the southern coast of China is an island which has managed to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

The world knows it as Taiwan, but for China, this island is its province. Beijing still claims the self-ruling island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even though the two sides have been ruled separately for more than seven decades.

For years, this sovereignty dispute has persisted. Now, as anger is rising in Taiwan against the World Health Organisation (WHO) and China's negligence, Beijing is flexing its military muscle to intimidate Taiwan. 
 
Chinese warships and fighter jets have been buzzing around the island. The president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, herself has raised alarm about China's military manoeuvres.

In a detailed Facebook post, Tsai Ing-wen has called out China for its incursions and misplaced priorities during this pandemic. And in response to such provocations, the Taiwanese government has scrambled its own fighter jets.

As the two sides trade barbs, the United States has deployed a warship to the Strait of Taiwan. The USS Mccampbell missile destroyer sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Thursday morning claiming it to be on a routine mission.

This could further escalate tensions because China views any passage through the Taiwan Strait as a breach of its sovereignty.

The United States, like most countries, has no official relations with Taiwan, but is the island’s most important international supporter and main source of arms.

It's hard to say how China will respond, but nations must remember that the world can do without a military escalation in the middle of a pandemic.

The coronavirus has killed more than 3,000 people in China. But despite its close proximity, Taiwan has just 235 cases and two deaths.

The island has been held up as a model for how to respond to the pandemic, even though Beijing ensures it is frozen out of global bodies such as the World Health Organisation.

(With inputs from agencies)