China bristles as Dutch frigate passes through Taiwan Strait

HNLMS Tromp was tracked while passing through the Taiwan Strait. Photo: John van Helvert/

China has accused the Netherlands of encroaching on its territorial waters and airspace following two incidents in the South China Sea in the last week.

The Dutch defence ministry complained of a “potentially unsafe” situation when two fighter jets tracked the frigate HNLMS Tromp as it passed through the Taiwan Strait last week.

Chinese planes also approached a Dutch helicopter that was conducting patrols off the Korean peninsula.

The Netherlands said both incidents took place in international waters, but China regards the Taiwan Strait as part of its jurisdiction. It said the actions risked compromising the “friendly relationship” between the two countries.

“We deeply regret the malicious words and deeds of the Netherlands and have submitted a protest,” the Chinese defence ministry said.

Dutch ships have avoided the Taiwan Strait in the past, even though it is officially classed as international waters, to avoid aggravating relations with China.

HNLMS Tromp was taking part in a multinational operation together with the United States, the UK and South Korea to monitor compliance with UN sanctions imposed on North Korea because of its nuclear weapons programme.

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