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The United States Snubs China by Designating the Taiwan Strait as a Global Waterway

The US backed Taiwan’s claim that the strait separating the island from China is an international waterway on Tuesday, a further rebuke to Beijing’s claim to sovereignty over the strategic waterway.

Since the defeated Republic of China government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war to the communists who established the People’s Republic of China, the Taiwan Strait has been a frequent source of military tension.

In recent years, US warships, as well as those from allies such as the United Kingdom and Canada, have sailed through the strait, provoking Beijing’s wrath.

China’s Foreign Ministry stated on Monday that the country “has sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction over the Taiwan Strait,” and that it is “a false assertion when certain nations refer to the Taiwan Strait as ‘international seas.'”

“The Taiwan Strait is an international waterway,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price told Reuters in an email on Tuesday. “The Taiwan Strait is an area where high seas freedoms, including freedom of navigation and overflight, are guaranteed under international law.”

Price added that the world has “an abiding interest in peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, which we regard as critical to the security and prosperity of the broader Indo-Pacific region.”

Taiwan’s administration is “cooperating with external forces to inflame the situation,” according to China’s Taiwan Affairs Office.

According to office spokeswoman Ma Xiaoguang in Beijing, this “harms the interests of countrymen on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and undermines the interests of the Chinese nation – it is vile.”

He reiterated US concerns about China’s “aggressive rhetoric and coercive activity” in Taiwan, saying the US “would continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law permits, including transiting through the Taiwan Strait.”

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China’s position, according to Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou, is “fallacious.” continue reading

Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang said on Wednesday that the strait was “by no means China’s inland sea.”

“China’s desire to engulf Taiwan has never slowed or been hidden; the Taiwan Strait is a nautical area for open international passage,” he told reporters.

According to China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, Taipei’s government is “cooperating with external forces to inflame the issue.”

This “harms the interests of compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and betrays the interests of the Chinese nation – it is despicable,” according to office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang in Beijing.

China has never renounced the use of force to annex Taiwan and sees the island as a natural part of its territory.

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Taiwan claims China has no right to speak for it or claim sovereignty, claiming that only the people of Taiwan can decide their own fate and that the People’s Republic of China has never ruled any portion of the island.

David Brunnstrom, Humeyra Pamuk, and Michael Martina contributed reporting; Ben Blanchard contributed additional reporting from Taipe.

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