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Secret U.S.-Taiwan Naval Exercise Pushed in China’s Face

Four unnamed sources in Taipei “briefed on the matter” told Reuters this morning that the U.S. and Taiwan navies carried out a joint exercise in April that officially did not happen. One source said the drills did not officially exist and were dubbed “unplanned sea encounters,” pointing to a tacit agreement in which both sides claim the exercises were simply the result of coincidental encounters.

“It’s like I am dining in this restaurant and you also happen to be here,” the source said. “Then it looks like I am only sharing the same table with someone.” That source also said about half a dozen navy ships from both sides, including frigates and supply and support vessels, participated in the days-long exercises, which were designed to practice “basic” operations such as communications, refuelling and resupply.

Taiwan’s navy said in a statement to Reuters that to handle unexpected scenarios at sea and to minimize “interference” with each other, the navy “acts in concert with the U.S.-promoted Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea,” also known as CUES. “The Navy often makes contact with vessels of other countries and conducts encounter drills as needed,” the statement said, without elaborating.

A third source said although the “unplanned encounters” of the two navies involved mostly basic exercises, such drills are vital to ensure the two militaries can operate together in times of emergency. The source added that the two navies also practiced various tactical maneuvers, including searching for underwater targets.

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