“The US has no right to demand from the servient countries to extend the right of way similar to their claim of innocent passage.”
To this day, assiduous students of geopolitics could feel there is in the US a consistent ambivalence to exercise their freedom of navigation every time their flotilla passes through China’s coastlines that separate Xiamen from Taiwan.
The basis upon which the US is claiming their freedom of navigation is pursuant to international law.
This area that separates China and Taiwan is more than 12 miles. Allowing the foreign ships to pass through the strait like the US, Japanese, UK, Australian, and South Korean navies is a matter of diplomatic courtesy extended to countries to shorten the destination of vessels but not to make a stopover along the passageway.
This column mentioned “freedom of navigation” much that the US has been using this principle to emphasize their “freedom” to navigate any place in the world.
The contested area known as the Strait of Taiwan is 98 percent closer to both China and Taiwan.
In contrast, the US navy must cross the Pacific Ocean to reach the South China Sea.
Nobody talks about the great distance of the US from China, for that could spell out the truth as to who is the possible aggressor upon which the US regularly passes through after crossing the vastness of the Pacific Ocean to reach South China Sea.
This explains why many students are confused why the US insists in calling their passage thru the Taiwan Strait as an exercise of their freedom of navigation, which, strictly speaking, violates the sovereignty of China.
The body of water that separates China and Taiwan is less than 2 kilometers measured from their respective shorelines.
To emphasize what we mean, the US insists in calling their routine navigation of the Taiwan Strait as in accordance to its “rules-based international order” which they themselves formulated and insists as part of international law.
This uncanny formulation by the US could easily make China appear as the one violating the principle, when it only asserts its right to secure its territorial integrity.
Most international relations lawyers reject the reason of “freedom of navigation” by the US navies to cross the Taiwan Strait, much that the strip of water that separates China from Taiwan is so narrow that there is the likelihood that passing vessels might just violate that portion considered as internal waters of China or Taiwan.
Foreign vessels crossing the strait should apply instead the “principle of right of innocent passage” because their vessels passing through the Strait are by no means innocent but likely to side with Taiwan or just want to taunt China like what the US, UK and Australian navies are doing by routinely crossing the Strait.
The right of innocent passage is far stricter than the freedom of navigation because all vessels passing through the Strait need to secure permission from the coastal states considering that the waterway can be classified as entirely internal waters.
Only a portion of the Strait can be said as international waters. In that sense, either Taiwan or China has the right to intercept foreign vessels passing through the waterway.
The US has no right to demand from the servient countries to extend the right of way similar to their claim of innocent passage.
Innocent passage is a limited right which only servient states can extend.
There is no way foreign vessels can demand that portion of the passageway be internationalized. Rather, the whole waterway is an “internal water” of which only the two riparian states can guarantee the passage.
The “right of way” extended to ships availing of the right of innocent passage is by virtue a necessity; that there is no way for ships to reach their destination except through that narrow strait.
Riparian states must grant permission, more so if the strait has been internationalized through conventions like the Strait of Bosporus for ships coming from the Black Sea exiting to the Mediterranean, for vessels using the Suez Canal from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean and vice versa, and ships passing Panama Canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean and vice versa.
Nonetheless, vessels exercising their right of innocent passage cannot load and unload cargoes or make a port of call along the canal.
This explains also why China vehemently opposes the regular passage of the US navy or any naval vessels through the Taiwan Strait on its way to the Indian Ocean, Sea of Japan or to the Pacific Ocean or to regularly patrol and monitor China’s activities.
The activities of the US navy, which in fact is a disguised form of hegemony extended to the South China Sea.
US attempt to internationalize the Strait is an extension of the Monroe Doctrine this time to the South China Sea.
Besides, in no instance has China blocked the passage of naval ships passing through the straits of Taiwan.
Even if China would conduct live fire drills, it would always give advance notice to foreign warships passing the area.
This courtesy extended by China has sadly been misinterpreted that either China has no political will to prevent vessels that are clearly posturing to be anti-Chinese led by the US, Australian, and UK vessels all raising the flag of freedom of navigation, and even insisting that their right is an exercise of what they now call “rules-based” principle to blatantly violate China’s core principle of territorial integrity.
On that basis, the US can justify its imposition of trade sanction or even go to war with other countries.
The unbridled dominance of the US allowed it to exercise hegemony in the South China Sea.
As observed, the exercise of powers allowed it to declare the Monroe Doctrine, meaning that the whole of Latin America is off limits to colonization.
The Taiwan Strait is now used by the US navy to regularly patrol. This means that no ship whatever its purpose and objective can pass through the passageway, thus converting the Taiwan Strait into its own area of responsibility.