BEIJING (Sputnik) – The Chinese armed forces remain on high alert after USS Higgins and Canada’s HMSC Vancouver proceeded in the Taiwan Strait amid heightened tensions in the region, spokesperson for the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Senior Colonel Shi Yi, said on Wednesday.On Tuesday, the US 7th Fleet said that the naval ships had transited the Taiwan Strait to demonstrate the “commitment of the United States and our allies and partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
"The US torpedo-boat destroyer USS Higgins and the Canadian frigate HMSC Vancouver proceeded via the Taiwan Strait on September 20. The eastern zone of the PLA combat command instructed that naval and air forces accompany the vessels along the entire route. The command units maintain high combat readiness to rapidly resist all threats and provocations and resolutely defend state sovereignty and territorial integrity," Shi said on WeChat.
The situation around Taiwan escalated after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island in early August. China condemned Pelosi’s trip, which it regarded as a gesture of support for separatism, and launched large-scale military exercises in the vicinity of the island. Several countries, including France, Lithuania, the United States, and Japan, have sent their delegations to the island since then, further increasing tensions in the Taiwan Strait.Taiwan has been governed independently from mainland China since 1949. Beijing views the island as its province, while Taiwan — a territory with its own elected government — maintains that it is an autonomous country but stops short of declaring independence. Beijing opposes any official contacts of foreign states with Taipei and considers Chinese sovereignty over the island indisputable.