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Chinese aircraft carriers pass through Taiwan Strait: Taipei

The Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong in Pacific Ocean waters is seen in this file photo by Japan’s Ministry of Defense on April 6, 2023. (By by Japan’s Ministry of Defense via AFP)

Three Chinese ships, including the Shandong aircraft carrier, passed through the Taiwan Strait and cruised along the west of its median line in a north-bound direction on Saturday, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said.

“A (People’s Liberation Army Navy) flotilla of 3 ships, led by the Shandong aircraft carrier, passed through the Taiwan Strait around noon today,” Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said in a statement.

According to the statement, the flotilla went “to the west of the median line, heading northward”, referring to the unofficial border in the middle of the strait which separates the island from continental Asia.

Taiwan’s armed forces said they have “monitored the situation and tasked (civil air patrol) aircraft, navy vessels, and land-based missile systems to respond to these activities.”

The defense ministry said 33 warplanes and 10 vessels were detected in the 24 hours to 6:00 am Saturday.

It came a day later after 11 vessels were spotted near the east-Asian island on Friday.

China’s latest military display also comes more than a month after Beijing launched aerial and naval exercises around the island.

Throughout recent months, China has ramped up its presence around the island and has sent warships, including an aircraft carrier, into the seas around Taiwan.

Earlier in April, Beijing staged a military show in response to a meeting in California between Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen and US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Last July, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the man who helped re-establish Washington-Beijing ties in the 1970s, had said geopolitics today requires “Nixonian flexibility” to help defuse conflicts between the US and China as well as between Russia and the rest of Europe.

“Biden and previous administrations have been too much influenced by the domestic aspects of the view of China,” Kissinger, 99, said in an interview in New York with Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait.

Kissinger had also warned that the increasingly adversarial relations between the US and China risk a global “catastrophe comparable to World War I.”

The following month, on August 2, 2022, former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, triggering a series of war games between the US and China, as China had strongly condemned the visit, and called the visit a “provocation” by the US that “seriously infringes upon China’s sovereignty.”

In response to the visit, on the same night of Pelosi’s arrival, Beijing began joint naval and air force exercises in areas north, southwest and southeast of Taiwan, long-distance, live-fire artillery shooting in the Taiwan Strait, and conventional-headed missile test firings in waters east of Taiwan.

China has always considered the self-ruled island of Taiwan as its own territory under its “One China” policy, and has vowed to occupy it one day.

Meanwhile, Taiwan sits in the so-called “first island chain”, which includes a list of US-friendly territories that are crucial to US foreign policy, being one of the reasons behind US interest in the island.

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