US military aircraft flies over Taiwan Strait

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Aug 29 2019 07:42 PM

TAIPEI - A US military plane flew over the Taiwan Strait on Thursday, the island's government said, just days after one of its navy ships sailed through the waters and the latest arms sale between Washington and Taipei.

Taiwan's defense ministry said in a statement that the transport aircraft flew south along the "median line" of the narrow strait, a traditionally respected maritime line dividing self-ruled Taiwan and mainland China, in a move likely to provoke Beijing. 

"Nothing unusual" occurred, the statement added. 

A USS transport ship passed through the strait last Friday, a few days after the US State Department approved the transfer of 66 F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan in an $8 billion deal, the latest huge military hardware sale.

China has blasted the arms deal and threatened to sanction firms involved in the sale of the fighter jets, at a time when relations between Washington and Beijing are already strained by a punitive trade war.

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 week marked the seventh such passage by US Navy ships this year, according to data released by Taiwan's defense ministry. 

France and Canada also sent warships through the Taiwan Strait earlier this year. 

Chinese state media Global Times said no government agency had responded to last week's passage and mocked Washington as "seeking attention" by posting related photos on social media.

Last month, China published a defense white paper stressing its willingness to use force to thwart any move towards the island's independence and accusing the US of undermining global stability.

Taiwan and China have been ruled separately since the end of a civil war in 1949, but Beijing views the self-ruling, democratic island as part of its territory.