TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The U.S. sent two military aircraft into the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday (June 28) despite claims by China that the body of water is its internal territory.
China's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) on June 13 claimed that Beijing has "sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the Taiwan Strait," and he described the strait as divided into several zones that include "internal waters, territorial sea, contiguous zone, and the Exclusive Economic Zone." However, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) countered that the strait is international waters, while U.S. State Department Spokesman Ned Price stated: “The Taiwan Strait is an international waterway ... guaranteed under international law."
On June 24, a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon patrol and reconnaissance aircraft reportedly flew over the Taiwan Strait. In response to reports of the flight, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command that same day confirmed the flight with a statement that read: "By operating within the Taiwan Strait in accordance with international law, the United States upholds the navigational rights and freedoms of all nations.”
Beijing-based think tank the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI) on Tuesday posted a tweet claiming that a U.S. Navy (USN) EP-3E Aries II electronic warfare and reconnaissance aircraft was "diving into the Taiwan Strait" that morning." It suggested that the aircraft was supporting an operation of a USN surface ship.
On its Weibo account, the SCSPI claimed that a U.S. Air Force Boeing RC-135W Rivet Joint electronic surveillance aircraft that same day had flown in the Taiwan Strait, East China Sea, and Yellow Sea. It speculated that the aircraft was focused on collecting electromagnetic spectrum signals from Chinese air and sea platforms.
Flightpath of EP-3E. (Twitter, SCSPI image)
Northern flightpath of RC-135W. (Weibo, SCSPI image)