US navy flies aircraft through the Taiwan Strait a day after US-China defense chiefs hold rare talks

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A US P-8A Poseidon reconaissance plane flies near Chinese structures and buildings on the man-made Fiery Cross Reef at the Spratlys group of islands in the South China Sea are seen on March 20, 2022. (AP)

TAIPEI, Taiwan, April 17, (AP): The US 7th Fleet said a Navy P-8A Poseidon flew through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, a day after US and Chinese defense chiefs held their first talks since November 2022 in an effort to reduce regional tensions.
The patrol and reconnaissance plane “transited the Taiwan Strait in international airspace,” the 7th Fleet said in a news release.
“By operating within the Taiwan Strait in accordance with international law, the United States upholds the navigational rights and freedoms of all nations,” the release said.
The critical strait is 160 kilometers (100 mile) wide and divides China from the self-governing island democracy. Although it’s in international waters, China considers the passage of foreign military aircraft and ships through it a challenge to its sovereignty.
China claims the island of Taiwan, threatening to defend it by force if necessary despite US military support for the island.
China scrambled fighter jets to “monitor the US plane’s passage” and operated “in accordance of laws and regulations, naval Col. Li Xi, spokesperson for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command, said in a report on the command’s official Weibo social media site.
“Theater troops are on high alert at all times to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and security as well as regional peace and stability,” Li said.
China routinely issues stern protests and activates defenses in response to the passage of ships and military planes through the straight, particularly those from the US.
China also regularly sends navy ships and warplanes into the strait and other areas around the island to wear down Taiwan’s defenses and seek to intimidate its 23 million people, who firmly back their de facto independence.

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