US monitoring of Taiwan warship suggests 'discord'

By Zhang Lulu
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, June 5, 2013
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A Taiwan naval vessel engaged in the protection of fishing boats around the Nansha Islands was monitored by a nearby U.S. anti-submarine aircraft in what may be a sign of distrust between Taiwan and the U.S., according to a report on Wednesday.

According to a report Monday in the "Taiwan Liberty Times," the Taiwan "Kangding" class Kunming naval vessel was sailing off Taiping Island of the Nansha Islands on May 25 after having carried out a supply mission to the island when it spotted a U.S. P-3C ASW aircraft believed to be part of the U.S. anti-submarine warfare squadron of the Anderson Air Force Base in Guam.

According to reports, the aircraft twice circled the Taiwan warship, coming so close that the ship's crew could clearly identify U.S. military insignia and the word "NAVY" on the rear part of the aircraft.

The Taiwan navy claimed that there was nothing irregular about the action of the U.S. aircraft; however, the incident was apparently immediately relayed to the Taiwan Defense Minister.

Some media outlets in Taiwan have suggested that the incident might be a sign of mutual distrust and communication problems between Taipei and Washington. In a previous incident which occurred in mid-May, Taiwan warships assigned to protect fishing boats in the Bashi Channel had what was described as a chance encounter with the U.S. T-AGM-23 ("Observation Island") warship, which followed the Taiwan warships for up to 3 hours. There have been suggestions that communication between Taipei and Washington has broken down regarding the South China Sea issue, resulting in frequent U.S. actions designed to "express concern" to Taipei.

The authorities in Taiwan have however dismissed any suggestion of a crisis of confidence between the two sides, with Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs claiming that relations between the two remain unchanged.

The Taiwan navy also downplayed the latest incident, explaining that the U.S. aircraft was "as far as 5 nautical miles away and there was no act of irregularity or animosity."

Such assurances have however failed to abate speculation in the Taiwan press of discord between Taipei and Washington.

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