Taiwan Says U.S. Military Plane Flew Through Taiwan Strait

Taiwan Presidential Office via AP / File photo
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, center, meet with a U.S. delegation led by California Rep. Ro Khanna, third from left during a meeting at the Presidential Office in Taipei on Tuesday.

TAIPEI (Reuters) — A U.S. P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance military plane has flown through the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Monday, the latest U.S. mission through the sensitive waterway separating Taiwan from China.

Beijing has been incensed by U.S. military missions through the narrow strait, most frequently of warships but occasionally of aircraft, saying China “has sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction” over the waterway. Taiwan and the United States dispute that saying it is an international waterway.

Taiwan’s defence ministry, in a brief statement, said the U.S. P-8A, which is also used on anti-submarine missions, had flown in a southerly direction through the strait.

Taiwan’s forces tracked the aircraft as if flew through the strait, the ministry said, noting the situation was “as normal”. It did not elaborate.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The United States has previously said such missions show the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

China, which claims democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory, has stepped up its military activity near the island in the past three years as it seeks to try to force Taiwan to accept Beijing’s sovereignty.

Taiwan’s government says only the island’s people can decide their future and it will not give in to threats.

Washington is Taiwan’s most important international backer and seller of arms despite the absence of formal diplomatic ties.