China sends special patrol into Taiwan Strait ahead of Tsai’s meeting with McCarthy
Stars and Stripes April 5, 2023
Chinese law enforcement vessels began a “special joint patrol” of the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday just hours before Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen was scheduled to meet House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California, according to Chinese state media.
A “maritime law enforcement vessel formation,” led by the Chinese coast guard cutter Haixun 06, began a patrol of central and northern portions of the strait, CCTV.com reported Wednesday afternoon.
Additional details, such as the patrol’s duration and the number of ships involved, were not disclosed by CCTV.com.
The announcement came as Tsai was enroute to Simi Valley, Calif., the last scheduled stop on a trip to Guatemala and Belize, two Central American countries among 13 in the world that officially recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state.
China considers self-governing Taiwan a breakaway province that must be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary.
Tsai and McCarthy planned to meet Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum.
China views the meeting as provocative and the patrol may signal Beijing’s displeasure. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Mao Ning on Tuesday said the visit “seriously contravenes the one-China principle” and “gravely undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Under the “One China” policy, the U.S. acknowledges Beijing’s view that it has sovereignty over Taiwan, which split from the mainland in 1949, but considers the island democracy’s status unsettled.
“The Chinese side will closely monitor the situation as it develops and resolutely defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Mao said at a Tuesday news conference.
When former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei in August, China responded with a weeklong military exercise around Taiwan that included live-fire drills and ballistic missile launches.
Since then, China has almost daily and without notice sent large numbers of aircraft and warships across the 110-mile-wide Taiwan Strait.
On Wednesday morning, three Chinese warships and 14 aircraft traveled toward Taiwan, with two aircraft entering the island’s air defense identification zone, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense.