The Canadian government on Tuesday confirmed that a Royal Canadian Navy ship had sailed through the Taiwan Strait, three months after a similar operation and amid strained ties between Beijing and Ottawa.
Beijing in April condemned a French decision to send a frigate through the Strait as illegal, and has also been upset by US Navy ships passing through the same waterway.
Canada’s government said that the frigate HMCS Ottawa passed through the Strait on Monday and Tuesday.
“This route was chosen as it was the most direct route between UN Security Council sanctions monitoring activities in Northeast Asia and engagements in Southeast Asia,” the Canadian Department of National Defence said on Tuesday.
“The Royal Canadian Navy does not conduct so-called ‘freedom of navigation’ operations aimed at challenging the territorial claims of other nations, and the ship’s transit was conducted in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” it added.
In June, two Canadian ships sailed through the Strait, but the government denied it was trying to make any kind of political point.
The Ministry of National Defense on Tuesday said that the latest ship passed through the Strait in a southerly direction and was monitored throughout by the armed forces.
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying (華春瑩) yesterday said that China does not take exception to “normal passage” through the Strait by foreign warships.
“But I don’t know what special purpose the Canadian side had in taking pains to make such a high-profile announcement about this,” she told a daily news briefing. “We hope the Canadian side takes practical actions to show that it respects China’s sovereignty and security.”
Canada-China relations have nosedived in the past year.
China, furious that Canadian police arrested a senior Huawei Technologies Co executive on Dec. 1 last year on a US warrant, has blocked imports of meat products and canola seed from Canada and charged two Canadian men with spying.
However, both nations last week appointed new ambassadors to each other’s capitals, in a sign that ties might be thawing.