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US, Taiwan navies secretly conducted Pacific exercises in April

Taipei and Washington have been strengthening military co-operation amid growing threats from Beijing and Chinese military exercises near Taiwan, Reuters reports.

Taiwan’s army and the US held joint naval exercises in the Pacific Ocean in April that did not officially take place, four people with knowledge of the matter on condition of anonymity told Reuters.

Anonymous sources said the drills took place in the western Pacific Ocean last month. The exercise involved “a multitude of military assets.” The drills have not been officially announced and have been dubbed “unplanned maritime encounters,” hinting at an unspoken agreement in which both countries say the exercises were simply the result of chance encounters between military forces. The source said:

 “It’s like I am dining in this restaurant and you also happen to be here. Then it looks like I am only sharing the same table with someone.”

About half a dozen naval vessels from both sides, including frigates, supply and support vessels, took part in the April exercise.

The Taiwanese navy said that to deal with unforeseen situations at sea and minimise “interference” with each other, the navies “operate in accordance with the US-adopted Code for Unplanned Collisions at Sea”, also known as CUES. The statement said, without elaborating:

“The Navy often makes contact with vessels of other countries and conducts encounter drills as needed.”

The US has made no comment on the issue.

Taiwan Navy Commander-in-Chief Tang Hua visited the US last month and discussed ways to boost bilateral naval cooperation. In response, China’s Foreign Ministry said it strongly opposes “military collusion” between the US and Taiwan.

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