Red Sea: Fleets Concentrate

USA approves new $75 million military package for Taiwan

The ships of the European Aspides mission are about to join the combined U.S. and U.K. fleets. China also seems to have little faith in the assurances of Yemen’s Houthi armed movement leaders, who have pledged “not to attack” Chinese merchant ships. On Wednesday, February 21, the 46th Flotilla of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army unmoored and advanced toward the Gulf of Aden from a military port near Zhanjiang in southern Guangdong province. The flotilla, consisting of the missile destroyer Jiaozuo, the missile frigate Xuchang, and the supply ship Honghu, is tasked with escorting ships in the Gulf of Aden and in the pirate-infested waters off the coast of Somalia. More than 700 officers and sailors are on board, including dozens of special forces.

China is conducting the expedition on its own. At the same time, the country condemned the U.S. decision to sell Taiwan new weapons systems. The sale of American weapons to Taiwan “undermines China’s sovereignty and security interests, damages relations between Beijing and Washington, and jeopardizes peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said. In recent days, the U.S. State Department approved a $75 million sale of advanced military data processing systems to Taipei. Beijing urged Washington to respect the One China principle, refrain from military ties with Taiwan and from creating sources of tension in the Strait. According to Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense, the new U.S. systems will update the island’s command, control, and surveillance systems. This will be the 13th shipment of military systems to Taiwan approved since the beginning of Joe Biden’s presidency.