U.S. Navy checks China, establishes new norm for Taiwan Strait

Special to WorldTribune.com

By Geostrategy-Direct

There is no more volatile and sensitive an issue for Beijing than the U.S. military presence in the Taiwan Strait which China considers its own dominance area.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stockdale. / U.S. Navy photo

Yet the U.S. Navy for the first time since 1969 has re-established its routine presence in the 100-mile wide strategic choke-point, much to China’s frustration.

The Taiwan Strait is considered a front-line region for China to cross in its repeated vows to “liberate” or invade Taiwan which Beijing claims as its own sovereign territory.

The communist government has attempted to invade Taiwan since 1949. In July 1950, President Harry S. Truman ordered the Japan-based U.S. 7th Fleet to operate a constant naval patrol in the Taiwan Strait to prevent China’s military actions against Taiwan.

That policy and patrols by U.S. Navy’s capital ships became the ultimate guarantee of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait for nearly 20 years until President Richard Nixon downgraded it to a sporadic non-capital ship patrol in 1969 in order to appease Beijing in a major diplomatic breakthrough.

By the time President Jimmy Carter abandoned Taiwan in exchange for China’s diplomatic recognition, the U.S. Navy presence was entirely gone, and the Taiwan Strait became virtually a prohibited sea route for any U.S. naval vessels to pass through.

In 1995 and 1996, the Chinese military launched a military intimidation campaign against Taiwan’s first ever democratic presidential election.

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