Taipei, Taiwan upholds the universal principle of freedom of navigation and is carefully monitoring all foreign ships sailing through, and aircraft flying over, the Taiwan Strait, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said Thursday.
"Taiwan is very careful about the practice of the freedom of navigation and is always in full awareness of any vessels or aircraft approaching Taiwan's territorial waters or air defense identification zone," Major General Chen Chung-chi (???) told a regular news briefing.
"Waters beyond the adjacent area surrounding Taiwan's territorial waters are the international high seas, including the Taiwan Strait and the waters off Taiwan's east coast, which are busy shipping lanes frequently used by neighboring countries," he explained.
"The military closely monitors and verifies the identity of foreign ships and planes coming near Taiwan, in line with the emergency response measures for the military in times of war," he said.
He made the remarks in response to Randall Schriver, the assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, who made it clear at a seminar a day earlier in Washington that the U.S. has the right to send naval vessels, including aircraft carrier, through the strait as it is an area of international waters. He declined to confirm whether the U.S. will do so again.
Two U.S. Navy ships -- the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers DDG-89 and DDG-65 -- conducted a routine transit through the international waters of the strait between the South China Sea and the East China Sea July 7-8.
Echoing Chen's remarks, Andrew Lee (???), spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the government fully supports the freedom of navigation protected by international law.
Circling around Taiwan by Chinese military aircraft and vessels has escalated tension in the region, triggering grave concern from the international community, Lee said, adding that the relevant authorities are keeping close tabs on follow-up developments and are strengthening Taiwan's own defense capability in the face of the increasing threat from China.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel