Canadian warships will sail through waters claimed by China at an increased pace, according to a high-ranking official in Ottawa. Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly announced the new policy after NATO members discussed adopting a more confrontational approach towards Beijing.
Speaking with the Financial Times, Joly said Ottawa will ensure the Taiwan Strait remains an “international” body of water. “We need to make sure that the question of the Taiwan Strait is clear and that it remains an international strait,” she continued, adding, “that’s why also we had a frigate going through the Taiwan Strait this summer, along with the Americans, [and] we’re looking to have more frigates going through it.”
Since President Joe Biden took office, American warships have transited the Taiwan Strait on a monthly basis. Beijing sees Taipei as a breakaway province that is still part of its own territory, and considers the Taiwan Strait to be within Chinese waters. Officials in Beijing have repeatedly condemned US naval vessels sailing through the strait, insisting they are violating Chinese sovereignty.
Washington frequently claims the Taiwan Strait operations help to uphold the “rules-based international order.” Joly mimicked the White House word-for-word when explaining why Canadian warships needed to sail just miles off of China’s coast, vowing to “continue to enforce the international rules-based order when it comes to the Taiwan Strait.”
Ottawa made the announcement shortly after Joly attended a summit of NATO foreign ministers in Romania, where senior officials met to address the “challenge” posed by the People’s Republic. Discussing the meeting, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US-led military bloc had agreed to “adapt in concrete ways to meet the challenge.”
Joly claimed deploying more Canadian military assets to the region will help ensure peace and stability. However, Beijing has responded to NATO’s military presence in Chinese-claimed waters by building up its own armed forces, and launched unprecedented military drills near the island last summer following a high-profile diplomatic trip to Taipei by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.