Taiwan scrambled aircraft and navy ships this Wednesday in precaution against a fleet of Chinese warships that sailed through the Taiwan Strait and into Taiwan’s “air defense identification zone.”
China’s only aircraft carrier, a Soviet-built, Liaoning, along with other Chinese warships, were returning from military exercises in the South China Sea.
According to Taiwan’s defense ministry, the Chinese did not encroach into Taiwan’s territorial waters but they did enter Taiwan’s air defense identification zone in the southwest.
Taiwan defense ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi said, “In response to the encroachment, Taiwan scrambled jets and navy ships to “surveil and control” the passage of the Chinese ships north through the body of water separating Taiwan and China.”
Chung-chi also said, “Taiwan military aircraft and ships have been deployed to follow the carrier group, which is sailing up the west side of the median line of the strait.”
China has said the Liaoning was on an exercise to test weapons and equipment in the disputed South China Sea and its movements complied with international law.
According to U.S. officials, “Over the weekend, a Chinese bomber flew around the Spratly Islands in a show of “strategic force.”
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said China’s ships “couldn’t always remain in port” and “the navy had to hone its capabilities.”
At a briefing on Asia-Pacific security, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu said, “The Taiwan Strait is an international waterway shared between the mainland and Taiwan. So, it is for the Liaoning to go back and forth through the Taiwan Strait in the course of training, and it won’t have any impact on cross-Strait relations.”
Chang Hsiao-yueh, minister for Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, had a news briefing and said, “I want to emphasize our government has sufficient capability to protect our national security. It’s not necessary to overly panic.”
She added, “On the other hand, any threats would not benefit cross-Strait ties.”
China has distrusted Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump broke years of diplomatic protocol and took a congratulatory call last month from her.
Tsai angered the Chinese again when she met senior U.S. Republican lawmakers in Houston on Sunday en route to Central America, in a transit stop that Beijing had asked the United States not to allow.
China has suspicions that Taiwan may be trying to seek its own independence but Tsai has stated she wants to remain at peace with China.
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