The words answer each other, as heavy as the threats of war in the Taiwan Strait. On Wednesday, June 14, the Taipei Foreign Ministry accused Beijing of “perverting international law” by saying that the strait separating the island from the mainland is part of China’s exclusive economic zone. Statements that “revealed the ambitions [de Pékin] to annex Taiwan,” the ministry said.
Taiwan’s democratic government responded to statements by Chinese ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin on Monday. China “has sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction across the Taiwan Strait,” the latter said, adding, “It is wrong to claim, as some countries do, that the straits are international waters to find an excuse to tamper with related issues.” with Taiwan. A warning that the Chinese military has repeated privately to its American counterparts “often and at all levels in recent months,” according to Bloomberg. Washington has stood since 1954, the date of the first crisis in this sea passage, as an ally of Taipei by supplying it with arms.
Being very wide (180 kilometers), the Strait of Taiwan is assimilated to the high seas and does not require any rules for shipping traffic: for example, that they follow separate lines one way and the other. According to the Montego Bay International Convention on the Law of the Sea, passage there can be unrestricted. “Crossing them is navigating the high seas with all the freedoms that come with it,” confirms Collin Koh, a researcher at the S. Rajaratman School of International.
Repeated military pressure
But since the invasion of Ukraine, the world has become more concerned than ever that China, like Russia has just done, embark on a military adventure to conquer a territory, Taiwan, which it calls its “One- China” principle. In its maritime environment, the Beijing regime, through repeated military pressure, is asserting historical rights that the UN has never recognized with increasing force. According to the official press, President Xi Jinping has also just legalized “the operations of the armed forces” that do not fall within the realm of war but will be able to “uphold Chinese national sovereignty.”
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On May 30, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) sent 30 aircraft into the island’s air identification and defense zone (a large perimeter that extends beyond national airspace), including two Sukhoi 35s, the Russian fighter-bombers Moscow deploys at NATO borders. On March 17, the PLA ferryed its aircraft carrier Shandong through the straits, an event that had not happened since late 2020.
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