Chinese Navy warns off French warship in Taiwan Strait

The development comes after Taiwan scrambled warplanes late last month to “drive away” two Chinese fighter jets which it said flew past a maritime border in the Taiwan Strait. The Chinese navy warned off a French warship which entered the Taiwan Strait earlier this month, Beijing said on Thursday, adding that it had submitted an official protest to Paris over the move.

According to the Chinese Defence Ministry, the French warship “illegally entered China’s territorial waters” on 7 April.

Reuters has, meanwhile, cited a French Defence Ministry source as saying that the French navy “transits through the Taiwan Strait once a year on average without any incident or reaction”. Paris, has, meanwhile, stressed that it affirms right to “freedom of shipping” amid spat with China over the Taiwan Strait passages, AFP reports.

This comes after Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence (MND) said earlier this month that two Chinese J-11 fighter jets had crossed the Taiwan Strait’s “median line” on 31 March, prompting Taipei to scramble several aircraft in order to intercept the warplanes.

Also, the 7 April French warship incident comes amid regular passages by US Navy ships through the strategic waterway. In late March, the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet said in a statement that they had sent the naval destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur and the Coast Guard cutter Bertholf through the Taiwan Strait.

The statement pointed out that the ships had “conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit [on] 24-25 March (local time) in accordance with international law.”

Beijing made a representation to Washington over the US warships’ passage, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.