US, Canadian warships presence in Taiwan Straits won’t deter China’s momentum to maintain natl unity: experts
Published: Oct 16, 2021 05:32 PM
A Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) air force formation conducts island patrols during training on April 26, 2018.Photo:China Military

A Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) air force formation conducts island patrols during training on April 26, 2018.Photo:China Military

The US military may have reportedly for the first time in recent years allied with warships of other countries to transit the Taiwan Straits as it explores ways to flex its military muscles in fresh provocations in the region amid the tense Straits situation. Chinese experts said on Saturday that the reported move showed US incapability to contain China and that its efforts to rally allies to deter China's momentum of growing strength to maintain national unity are futile.  

They said China has a mature response mechanism against any provocative acts as the country's national defense authorities stated Friday the PLA will maintain high alert and is ready to fight at any time. 

According to satellite images, around 10 am on Friday, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer of the US Navy and a Halifax-class frigate of the Royal Canadian Navy were both spotted at the southern end of the Taiwan Straits as they were heading toward the north, according to think tank South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI) on Friday. They were suspected of being engaged in a joint operation to transit the Taiwan Straits. 

China's Ministry of Defense has not confirmed the information yet. 

The reported latest development happened amid a tense situation across the Straits fueled by the increasing collusion between the US and separatist DPP authorities on Taiwan island and as various US officials have reiterated that the US commitment to the island of Taiwan is "rock solid." 

Many pieces of evidence suggest that this Canadian warship is likely to be HMCS Winnipeg. If this proves to be true, it will be the first time in recent years that the warships of the US and another country jointly transit the Taiwan Straits, SCSPI said. 

HMCS Winnipeg has frequently appeared in the East China Sea and the South China Sea recently. It arrived at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka's Berth 13, for a scheduled port visit in September, according to media reports. In early October, it joined the six-country naval exercises led by three US and UK aircraft carriers in the Philippine Sea. It arrived in the Philippines on October 11 and was docked at the Port of Manila till October 13, media reports said. 

According to AIS signals on Thursday, the warship navigated to the waters south of Taiwan. 

Vessels in the Taiwan Straits, July 20, 2017. /CGTN Photo

Vessels in the Taiwan Straits, July 20, 2017. Photo:CGTN

This is not the first time that HMCS Winnipeg has sailed through the Taiwan Straits. It once did so in October 2020, according to media reports. 

According to the Global Firepower 2021 statistics, Canada is ranked 21 out of the 140 countries considered for the annual review. Canada's total military personnel is estimated at 112,500. It has 377 aircraft, among which there are 62 fighters/interceptors. The number of warships is 64.

Sun Xihui, an associate research fellow at the National Institute of International Strategy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times Saturday that these figures show that Canada's military strength is the level of middle powers and there is still a huge gap with major powers like China, Russia and the US.

Wang Yunfei, a Beijing-based naval expert and a retired PLA Navy officer, echoed Sun's view and called Canada "a donkey in a lion's skin." 

"Canada's Halifax-class frigate falls behind warships of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), and the PLA's naval strength has advantages over Canadian frigates of this class. The range of anti-aircraft missiles or anti-ship missiles and the information control system of Halifax-class frigates are both weaker than the Type 052D destroyers of China," Wang told the Global Times on Saturday. 

Meanwhile, a USN MQ-4C drone entered Taiwan's self-proclaimed southwest ADIZ via the Bashi Channel to patrol there on Saturday morning, Taiwan media reported.  

Sun noted that each time foreign warships transit the Taiwan Straits, the naval warships and air fighter jets of the PLA Eastern Theater Command trace and monitor them.

According to Taiwan media, PLA aircraft entered Taiwan's self-proclaimed southwest ADIZ in the early morning of Saturday. 

"This means China has a mature and stable mechanism as well as response plans. No matter the disturbances that can come from warships of a single country or multiple countries, China is confident to cope with them," said Sun.

Wang said US' move to woo other countries to send warships to the Taiwan Straits shows that the US is not capable of containing China's ability to develop its sea power and air power in its coastal areas, and rallying its allies will not deter China's momentum of growing its strength to maintain national unity. 

The US has ratcheted up military maneuvers against China recently by rallying other countries, while at the same time keeping a high alert on China's military exchanges with other countries. 

Russia said one of its military vessels chased away the US' guided missile destroyer USS Chafee that attempted to violate Russian territorial waters during Russian-Chinese naval drills in the Sea of Japan on Friday.

Nonetheless, a US military statement said USS Chafee conducted operations in accordance with international law and custom. 

Russian Defense Ministry criticized the "unprofessional actions" of the US destroyer's crew, which had "rudely violated international laws on the prevention of collisions of vessels at sea".

One day earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said "Russia sees Taiwan as part of the People's Republic of China."

Cui Heng, an assistant researcher at the Center for Russian Studies at East China Normal University, told the Global Times on Saturday that the stance of Russia shows Russia's support to China in achieving national reunification and indicates that Russia has a clear understanding of the world development and China's growing strength.