Canadian frigate sails through Taiwan Strait amid tense relations

TAIPEI (AFP) - A Canadian frigate was passing through the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday (Sept 10), Taipei's Defence Ministry said, in the latest of a string of such voyages likely to provoke Beijing.

The ministry said in a statement it was closely monitoring as the Canadian warship sailed through the narrow waterway separating the Chinese mainland and Taiwan in a "freedom of navigation" operation.

It did not identify the vessel.

In June, a Canadian frigate and its supporting vessel sailed through the Strait as relations between China and Canada have deteriorated since December when police in Vancouver detained Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on a US arrest warrant.

Days later China arrested two Canadians - former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor - in what is widely seen as a tit-for-tat move.

China has also blocked Canadian agricultural shipments worth billions of dollars.

Taiwan had called the June voyage a "freedom of navigation" operation but Canada's military said it was "not related to making any statement".

China views any passing through the strait as a breach of its sovereignty - while the US and many other nations view the route as international space.

 

Last month, a US military plane flew over the Taiwan Strait, just days after one of its navy ships sailed through the waters and the latest arms sale between Washington and Taipei.

US State Department approved the transfer of 66 F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan in an US$8 billion (S$11 billion) deal, the latest huge military hardware sale to the self-ruling democratic island, which China sees as part of its territory awaiting reunification.

Beijing threatened to sanction US firms involved in the sale of the fighter jets, at a time when relations are already strained by a punitive trade war.

In April, China said its navy warned off a French warship that had entered the strait and lodged an official protest to Paris.