Wednesday, 4 October 2023

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Chinese carrier group passes through Taiwan Strait

TAIPEI, TAIWAN — China’s Shandong aircraft carrier led a group of warships through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, Taipei’s defence ministry said.

Beijing has ramped up sea and air incursions in recent years around self-ruled Taiwan, which it claims as its own territory, but the deployment of the Shandong through the waterway separating the island from mainland China is a rarity.

“A Chinese Communist Shandong aircraft carrier group passed through the west side of the Taiwan Strait in a southerly direction today 21 June,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The (Taiwan) military was closely monitoring our territorial air and sea movements and will respond accordingly”.

The Shandong, one of two aircraft carriers in the Chinese fleet, last passed through the Strait in May.

It was also deployed during war games staged by Beijing in April that involved fighter jets carrying “live ammunition” conducting simulated strikes around the democratic island.

Those exercises were a response to a meeting between Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen — who staunchly rejects China’s territorial claims over the island — and US Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles.

Beijing had warned before the meeting that it would provoke strong countermeasures.

The presence of Chinese warships and jets around Taiwan has intensified since the meeting.

Previous transits through the waterway include one in March 2022, right before China’s Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden held a phone call.

Before that, the carrier transited in December 2020, a day after a US warship had passed through, and in December 2019, weeks before Taiwanese voters went to the polls.


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