China Warns Away US Warship After Large-Scale PLA Drills Near Taiwan

China’s military said Wednesday that it issued a formal warning to a US warship that passed through the Taiwan Strait soon after large-scale Chinese PLA military drills wound down in waters surrounding Taiwan.

The US Navy’s 7th Fleet confirmed the guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal sailed through the contested strait on Tuesday in a “routine” transit and in “accordance with international law”. But China suggested the US is intent on staging “drama” to provoke “trouble” in connection with its military exercises – according to its statement.

USS Port Royal, Image: US Navy

The PLA’s Eastern Theatre Command charged that Washington is now increasing the frequency of “such dramas” and is intent on stirring up “trouble, sending the wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces and deliberately intensifying tensions across the Taiwan Strait,” as cited in Reuters.

After closely monitoring the US vessel, the Chinese command said it “warned” it away while stating that its troops “maintain high alert at all times, resolutely counteract all threats and provocations, and resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The US in 2021 sent a navy ship through the strait roughly on a monthly basis, which Beijing each time shadowed and protested – a pattern which has continued thus far in 2022.

But this fresh Tuesday sail-through is perhaps being perceived by Beijing as very intentional timing on the part of Washington, given PLA forces just wrapped up a major drill in surrounding Taiwan waters. A Chinese military analyst has been quoted in international publications as calling it a “rehearsal of possible real action.”

One Western military publication described of these latest exercises aimed at Taiwan:

On Monday, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) announced its Eastern Theater Command organized maritime, aerial, conventional missile and other forces around Taiwan and carried out drills around the island from Friday to Sunday.

The Eastern Theater Command earlier called the drills part of efforts “to test and improve the joint operations capability of multiple services and arms.” Once Russia’s war in Ukraine started in late February, Western officials raised the alarm that China could try the same thing against much smaller and weaker Taiwan, which Beijing has long claimed as its own.

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