Taiwan breaks norms to note US military activity in defense zone

Taiwan breaks norms to note US military activity in defense zone
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Taiwan acknowledged the presence of the U.S. military in its air identification zone as tensions with Beijing continue to rise, Reuters reports.

Taiwan's defence ministry addressed the presence of a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft in the southwestern part of its air identification zone, according to Reuters. Diplomatic and security sources told the news organization that U.S. air and naval missions frequently get close the island when they go through the Taiwan Strait.

A U.S carrier group led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt entered the South China Sea last Sunday, the same day Taiwan reported Chinese bombers in its air defense identification zone. 

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The Chinese government referred to the U.S. military presence in the region as not “conducive to peace and stability in the region.”

As Reuters notes, Taiwan rarely addresses nearby U.S. activity. The two countries do not currently have official diplomatic ties, though the U.S. is the country’s most important backer. Arm sales from the U.S. to the island increased during the Trump administration.

In one of his last moves as secretary of State, Mike PompeoMike PompeoAmerica needs a new strategy for Pacific Island Countries Harris to hold fundraiser for McAuliffe ahead of Virginia governor's race It's in our interest to turn the page on relations with Suriname MORE lifted a long-standing restriction that prevented meetings between U.S. and Taiwanese officials. China condemned the move as a threat to Chinese reunification.

China’s defense ministry spokesman Wu Qian said “Taiwan independence’ means war,” in a statement released last week. Beijing currently claims Taiwan as one of its territories and as Reuters notes, a declaration of independence from its democratically elected government would be seen as an overstep.

However, Reuters points out that Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen has already referred to his country as an independent state, referring to it by its formal name, the Republic of China.