U.S. officials confirmed on Wednesday that the French frigate Vendemiaire sailed through the Strait of Taiwan on April 6 and Chinese military vessels shadowed it.
The operation does not appear to have been coordinated with the United States, which frequently enrages China with freedom of navigation operations through waters illegally claimed by Beijing. The French warship’s transit equally upset the Chinese, who retaliated by rescinding France’s invitation to participate in a naval parade.
“Colonel Patrik Steiger, the spokesman for France’s military chief of staff, declined to comment on an operational mission. The U.S. officials did not speculate on the purpose of the passage or whether it was designed to assert freedom of navigation,” Reuters reported on Wednesday.
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on Thursday that Taiwan’s military was “well aware” of the French frigate’s presence.