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China Deploys Aircraft Carrier Group Off Taiwan’s Coast Ahead Of Latter’s Meeting With US

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On the same day that Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen was scheduled to meet with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles, Taiwan’s defence ministry reported on Wednesday that a Chinese aircraft carrier group was in the waters off the southeast shore of the island.

If the conference goes ahead, China, which asserts democratically-governed Taiwan as its own territory, has threatened unspecified retaliation.

Following Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei in August of last year, China held war exercises near Taiwan.

The Bashi Channel, which divides Taiwan from the Philippines, was traversed by the Chinese ships, which were commanded by the carrier Shandong, according to Taiwan’s security ministry. After that, they entered waters to Taiwan’s southeast.

The ministry claimed that “the Chinese Communists continue to send ships and aircraft to encroach in the seas and airspace around Taiwan.”

“In addition to posing a substantial threat to our national security, it also destroys the status quo of regional security and stability. Such actions are by no means the acts of a responsible modern country,” it added. 

A grainy black-and-white aerial photo of the carrier and a photo of a Taiwanese seaman gazing out at the Shandong and another unidentified ship in the distance were both supplied by the ministry.

The carrier group’s appearance coincided with the entry in Beijing of French President Emmanuel Macron; China has not yet responded to this.

China has previously and during equally delicate times sailed its aircraft carriers close to Taiwan.

Just hours before the scheduled meeting between the Chinese and American leaders, the Shandong sailed through the Taiwan Strait in March last year.

In a statement regarding Shandong’s most recent mission close to the island, Taiwan’s defence ministry stated that “external pressure will not hinder our determination to go into the world.”

In order to handle any difficulties, Taiwan’s military will follow the principles of “not escalating conflicts, not causing disputes” and keep a careful eye on the situation in the Taiwan Strait.

According to a statement on its WeChat account, China’s Fujian maritime safety administration has begun a three-day special joint patrol and inspection operation in the central and northern sections of the Taiwan Strait that includes attempts to board ships.

The operation included “on-site inspections” of direct cargo ships and construction vessels on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, according to the maritime safety authority in the province in southeast China, on Wednesday. This was done “to ensure the safety of vessel navigation and ensure the safe and orderly operation of key projects on water.”

Taiwan protests China’s actions

The Maritime and Ports Bureau of Taiwan’s Transport Ministry said in a statement late on Wednesday that it had strongly protested the action by China.

It claimed to have informed the appropriate shipping operators that they should refuse any such requests from China and promptly alert Taiwan’s coast guard to provide support if they come across such requests.

“If the mainland side insists on taking one-sided actions, it will create obstacles to normal exchanges between the two sides.” Without going into further detail, it continued, “We will be forced to take corresponding measures.”

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