China's new warnings to the U.S. about the Taiwan Strait are alarming the U.S.
China is issuing new and repeated challenges to the U.S. view of international law regarding the freedom of the Taiwan Strait in meetings with American counterparts, sources told Bloomberg.
The report comes as defense chiefs of China and the U.S. have clashed over the sovereignty of Taiwan at the Singapore security forum this week.
The U.S. has long believed the Taiwan Strait to be international waters, conducting frequent freedom of navigation exercises, while China is telling the U.S. otherwise in recent meetings on myriad levels, the source told Bloomberg.
China has long viewed the Taiwan Strait as its exclusive economic zone and has called for limits to foreign military vessels there. China has often protested U.S. freedom of navigation routines there, but now the concerns are showing up more in the meetings between the countries, according to the report.
That is potentially raising the concern China might make a move to confront U.S. Navy assets there – if not using these issues as a potential pretext for a military move on Taiwan.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned in a speech Saturday at the IISS Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore that the People's Republic of China (PRC) is attempting to change the status quo in the region.
"Our policy hasn't changed, but unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be true for the PRC," Austin said. "We're seeing growing coercion from Beijing.
"We've witnessed a steady increase in provocative and destabilizing military activity near Taiwan. That includes PLA aircraft flying near Taiwan in record numbers in recent months — and on a nearly daily basis."
Those remarks prompted China's Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe to vow to fight for Taiwan – a notable statement considering Vladimir Putin's claims to parts of Ukraine and the "special military operation" he commenced Feb. 24, with China's backing in some regard.
"If anyone dares to secede Taiwan from China, we will not hesitate to fight," Wei said. "We will fight at all costs, and we will fight to the very end. This is the only choice for China."
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