China’s first aircraft carrier sails through Taiwan Strait in what is considered as ‘intimidatory’ move

epa05710173 (FILE) - A file picture dated 24 September 2012 shows China's first aircraft carrier, with hull number '16' but not yet named, in the shipyard in Dalian, northeast China. According to media reports on 11 January 2017, the soviet-built carrier, which has been commissioned as the Liaoning, together with a group of Chinese warships, sailed through the Taiwan Strait. The group did not pass into Taiwanese territorial waters, but Taiwan scrambled F-16 and Mirage fighters as well as navy ships to surveil the group of Chinese ships. The Liaoning aircraft carrier was returning from naval exercises in the South China Sea. EPA/JOHN LEE CHINA OUT

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China’s first domestically-built aircraft carrier is on its way to the South China Sea for tests and to take part in exercises, the Chinese navy said on Monday, after sailing through the Taiwan Strait in a mission denounced by Taipei as intimidation.

Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Sunday a Chinese carrier group led by the ship passed through the sensitive strait with U.S. and Japanese vessels tailing it.

In a statement, the Chinese Navy said the carrier passed through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday night, going to the South China Sea for “scientific tests and routine drills”.

“The organisation of the trials and drills of the domestic aircraft carrier through the region is a normal arrangement in the construction process of the aircraft carrier,” it said.

Meanwhile, China on Monday, called on the U.S. military to stop flexing its muscles in the South China Sea and to avoid adding “new uncertainties” over Taiwan, during high-level talks that underscored tension between the world’s two largest economies, according to Reuters.

Despite warm words exchanged in front of reporters, Wei and Esper also discussed the thorny issues, including Chinese-ruled Hong Kong, which has seen months of anti-government protests.

They also talks about democratic Taiwan, which is claimed by China as a wayward province and is the Communist Party’s most sensitive and important territorial issue. Wei underscored to Esper China’s position that it would “not tolerate any Taiwan independence incident,” Wu said, adding that it opposed any official or military contact with Taiwan.

China has in the past threatened to attack if Taiwan, set to hold a presidential election next year, moves towards independence. “The Chinese side also requires the U.S. side to carefully handle the Taiwan related-issue and to not add new uncertainties to the Strait,” Wu said.

Via Reuters / AFP /

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