Thu, Oct 25, 2018 - Page 1 News List

China’s reaction to navy ships no worry: Trump

INTERNATIONAL LAW:A Pentagon spokesman said the ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region

Staff writer, with CNA, WASHINGTON

General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, center, speaks with US President Donald Trump, left, at a briefing with senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington on Tuesday.

Photo: Bloomberg

US President Donald Trump is not concerned about negative reactions from Beijing after two US Navy warships sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Monday at a time of growing tension between the two superpowers.

“I’m not worried about anything. I don’t worry about things,” Trump said at the White House on Tuesday when asked by a reporter if he was worried about any negative reaction from China.

Asked about his administration’s decision to cruise two US Navy warships through the Taiwan Strait at this point in time, Trump said: “I will leave the decision to myself and my generals and admirals, OK? Not to you.”

Trump’s comments came after Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan said in an e-mail response on Monday that the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam and the guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur passed through the Strait in accordance with international law.

“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he said. “The US Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”

China had a relatively muted response to the ships’ movements.

Asked whether Beijing considered the ships’ passage a provocative move by Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying (華春瑩) told a regular briefing on Tuesday that China had expressed “serious concern” to the US.

China closely monitored the operation and is keeping abreast of the situation, she added.

It was the second time in three months that the US military had sailed warships through the Taiwan Strait, which the US considers to be international waters.

Chinese warships shadowed the US ships at a safe distance during the maneuver, anonymous US officials said.

At a meeting of the Legislative Yuan, the Ministry of National Defense’s Joint Intelligence and Research Center Director Wang Shao-hua (王紹華) sidestepped a question by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) about whether the US military has proposed a series of drills to take place near Taiwan next month, as reported in the local media.

Declining to answer the question directly, Wang said that the US military was reportedly planning to conduct a military exercise near Guam early next month.

Asked by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) whether US warships passing through the Strait would become a regular exercise, Wang said that the defense ministry has no comment, as international law gives US Navy warships right of passage in international waters.

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