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21 Dec, 2020 11:17

China sends aircraft carrier through Taiwan Strait just day after 'flirtatious' transit by US warship

China sends aircraft carrier through Taiwan Strait just day after 'flirtatious' transit by US warship

Beijing has dispatched the Shandong aircraft carrier on a trip through the Taiwan Strait a day after an American destroyer had sailed there and sparked China’s anger.

The carrier has “smoothly” sailed through the Taiwan Strait, Liu Wensheng, a spokesperson for the Chinese navy, announced on Monday. 

Liu said the carrier was conducting “cross-regional maneuver training as part of our normal arrangements,” adding that further drills will be organized in the future in accordance with Beijing’s “training needs.”

Taiwan’s defense ministry said six warships and eight aircraft were dispatched to closely track the Shandong’s movements. Officials stressed that Taiwan’s military was capable of protecting the island country. 

The voyage took place amid heightened tensions between Beijing and Taipei and just a day after Washington, Taiwan’s military ally, had sent US Navy destroyer the USS Mustin through the strait. The US Navy said the transit had showcased the commitment to a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” and American ships will continue to sail “anywhere international law allows.” 

Zhang Chunhui, a spokesperson for the Chinese military, described the Mustin’s trip as a “selfish strategy” to “use Taiwan as a chess piece.” Zhang argued that by sailing its warships through the Taiwan Strait the US was “hyping up and dramatizing” tensions and casting a “flirtatious glance at the Taiwan independence forces.”

Taipei, meanwhile, has launched programs to build submarines and patrol ships to counter China’s increased activity in the region. Taiwan also struck deals with the US to buy fighter jets and anti-ship missiles. Taiwanese officials said the rearmament was necessary to ensure the island’s protection. China insisted the deals with the US violate the ‘One-China’ principle and only lead to further escalation. 

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