April 26, 2019 | Story | No Comments
China had to deploy navy ships to escort off a French vessel which “illegally” entered the Taiwan Strait, the country’s defense ministry said.
“China’s military sent navy ships in accordance with the law to identify the French ship and warn it to leave,” defense ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said.
The official did not specify the vessel but it was believed to be the frigate Vendemiaire. The French warship passed through the narrow waterway between China and Taiwan on April 6 in a rare move by a vessel of the European country, Reuters reported earlier.
Following the incident, China revoked France’s invitation to the parade marking the 70th anniversary of the country’s Navy, the agency’s sources said.
The display of force, held on Tuesday, featured 32 vessels of the Chinese naval forces including an aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, and the latest nuclear submarines. Warships from several countries took part in the event, including Russia, India, Japan, Australia, and the Philippines.
The French frigate was also expected to join the parade but did not show up, without an explanation from either side. Meanwhile, a source close to the French Ministry of Defense told Reuters that their Navy transits ships through the Taiwan Strait “on average once a year without incident or reaction.”
NATO ships navigating through the strait between mainland China and the self-ruled island has been a source of tension with Beijing for quite a while. The latest incident occurred in late March as the US Navy destroyer Curtis Wilbur and the Coast Guard cutter Bertholf sailed through the strategic passage.
China, which regards Taiwan as its territory filed a formal protest following the move which has become the third of its kind in 2019. Beijing also urged Washington to handle Taiwan-related issues cautiously, while the US considers the Taiwan Strait an international waterway.