British warship the HMS Richmond passed through the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning, according to a social media post from the frigate.
“After a busy period working with partners and allies in the East China Sea, we are now en route through the Taiwan Strait to visit Vietnam and the Vietnam People’s Navy,” the message on Twitter said.
The type 23 Royal Navy frigate is one of the ships deployed with the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier and her task group on a global mission to visit more than 40 nations.
The aircraft carrier and task group earlier this month made a port call in Yokohama, Japan.
The British embassy in Tokyo said at the time that the deployment was “a powerful demonstration of the UK’s close and enduring partnership with Japan and the UK’s commitment to maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region.”
The passage through the Taiwan Strait came a week after British First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin told Nikkei Asia that the Taiwan Strait is “international waters” and it can be used by any nation, not just by China.
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
Minister of National Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said in Taipei that he was not aware of the exact mission of the British warship that was passing through the Taiwan Strait, but that the armed forces have a clear grasp of all foreign vessels operating near Taiwan and would not intervene.
In related news, Chiu yesterday told a meeting of the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee at the legislature that Taiwan needs long-range, accurate weapons to properly deter a China that is rapidly developing systems it could use to attack the nation.
The government this month proposed extra defense spending of almost US$9 billion over the next five years, including on new missiles, as it warned of an urgent need to upgrade the nation’s weapons in the face of a “severe threat” from China.
Taiwan needs to let China know that it can defend itself, Chiu said.
“The missiles must be long-range, precise and mobile, so that the enemy can sense that we are prepared as soon as they dispatch their troops,” he said.
In a written report to the legislature, the ministry said that both medium and long-range missiles were being used in intercept drills at a key testing facility on the southeastern coast.
Chiu declined to give details of the range of those missiles.
The ministry gave an unusually stark assessment of China’s abilities in its annual report, saying it could “paralyze” Taiwan’s defenses and is able to fully monitor its deployments.
It is important that Taiwanese are aware of the danger facing them, Chiu said.
Asked what China would attack first in the event of a war, Chiu said that it would be Taiwan’s command and communications abilities.
“On this the Chinese communists’ abilities have rapidly increased. They can disrupt our command, control, communications and intelligence systems, for example with fixed radar stations certainly the first to be attacked,” he said. “So we must be mobile and stealthy.”
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