Monday, March 1, 2021

New Chinese carrier battle group passes through Taiwan Strait for sea drills in South China Sea

Beijing says it was also tailing a US warship that was steaming through the waterway.

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A Chinese aircraft carrier task force led by Beijing’s newest carrier, the Shandong, has sailed through the narrow Taiwan Strait on its way to exercises in the South China Sea, China’s navy said on Monday.

Taiwan has mobilised its military to monitor the force, reports Reuters.

This is not the first time China’s carriers have passed close to Taiwan, but it comes at a time of heightened tension between Taipei and Beijing, which claims the democratically ruled island as its territory.

The Shandong force steamed through the Taiwan Strait a day after a US warship went through the same waterway. China’s military said it had tailed the ship.

China’s navy said the drills are part of “normal arrangements made in accordance with annual plans. We will continue to organise similar operations based on training needs.”

Taiwan’s defence ministry said the Shandong was accompanied by four warships and had set out from the northern Chinese port of Dalian on Thursday.

Taipei said it sent six warships and eight aircraft to “stand guard” and monitor the Chinese task force’s movements.

The Shandong is China’s second carrier and took to sea almost a year ago.

Since then, it has successfully completed tasks such as aircraft take-off and landing training and use of weapons, the Chinese navy said.

China has been working to hone its carrier operations, but has little experience in comparison with the US navy, which has operated integrated carrier battle groups with multiple warships for decades.

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