The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command on Tuesday shadowed a U.S. Navy cruiser when it made a provocative transit through the Taiwan Straits.
Just after the PLA held a large-scale joint exercise surrounding Taiwan island from both sides and its powerful Liaoning aircraft carrier group conducted drills east to the island, the transit of the U.S. warship aimed to show support to "Taiwan independence" secessionist forces, analysts said, noting that the collusion between external forces and the secessionists is bound to fail.
The USS Port Royal guided missile cruiser made a transit through the Taiwan Straits on Tuesday with the U.S. publicly hyping the move. The PLA Eastern Theater Command organized forces, tracked and monitored on high alert the U.S. vessel through its entire course, Senior Colonel Shi Yi, spokesperson of the PLA Eastern Theater Command, said in a press release late on Tuesday.
By frequently playing shows like this, stirring up troubles and making provocations, the U.S. is sending wrong signals to "Taiwan independence" forces and is intentionally escalating tensions in the Taiwan Straits, Shi said.
The troops of the PLA Eastern Theater Command are on high vigilance at all times to resolutely counter all threats and provocations and firmly safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity, Shi said.
The transit of the U.S. warship came after a live fire exercise by the PLA Eastern Theater Command, between May 6 and 8, which involved maritime, aerial, conventional missiles and other forces in and above waters east and southwest of the island of Taiwan.
According to Japan's Defense Ministry, the PLA Navy's Liaoning aircraft carrier group has been hosting intensive, diurnal and nocturnal carrier-based aircraft training with live munitions in the Philippine Sea, east of the island of Taiwan and south of Japan from May 3 to at least May 9.
The U.S. Navy has provocatively sent warships through the Taiwan Straits almost on a monthly basis and recent transits have been carried out by destroyers. But this time, a more powerful ship was deployed at a sensitive time when the PLA just held a large-scale exercise in the region involving an aircraft carrier, a Beijing-based military expert, who requested to remain anonymous, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
It is obvious that the U.S. is trying to encourage Taiwan secessionists not to be deterred by the PLA's recent drills, which is sending a very wrong and dangerous signal, the expert said.
The U.S., Taiwan secessionists and other external forces that attempt to interfere in the Taiwan question must understand that the island is an inalienable part of China, and the PLA has the determination and capability to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity, the expert said, noting that a single U.S. warship can do nothing but make a political show.
On the same day the U.S. warship sailed through the Taiwan Straits, a Z-10 attack helicopter and two Ka-28 anti-submarine warfare helicopters of the PLA entered Taiwan's self-proclaimed southwest air defense identification zone, with the Z-10 flying through the so-called median line of the Taiwan Straits, according to a press release from Taiwan's defense authority. Since the Ka-28 is a type of vessel-based helicopter, it was also certain that there were PLA warships within vicinity, analysts said.