The Chinese aircraft carrier “Shandong” and two other ships crossed the Taiwan Strait on Saturday which, according to an expert, constitutes a Beijing show of force in this area that separates the island from the mainland.
“A flotilla of the People’s Liberation Army Navy led by the aircraft carrier ‘Shandong’ crossed the Taiwan Strait around noon on Saturday,” Taiwan’s defense ministry said in a statement.
The vessels were sailing “west of the midline, heading north,” the statement added, referring to the unofficial boundary in the middle of the strait.
China does not recognize that invisible border designed unilaterally by the United States during the Cold War.
Taiwan constantly monitors the presence of Chinese warships and makes an announcement almost daily.
However, the passage of Shandong through the Taiwan Strait, 180 kilometers wide and which separates the island from the Asian mainland, is unusual.
Taiwan’s military “monitored the situation and tasked aircraft (civilian air patrol), navy vessels and land-based missile systems to respond to these activities,” the ministry said.
Relations between China and Taiwan, at their lowest point since President Xi Jinping took power in Beijing more than 10 years ago, have recently deteriorated further.
China has stepped up its military incursions around the island.
Taiwan Ministry of Defense “detected on Saturday at six in the morning” 33 warplanes and 10 ships. The day before, 11 vessels were close to Taiwanese waters.
Beijing considers Taiwan part of its territory and has promised to regain control of the autonomous island one day.
According to Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute of the University of London, the passage of the aircraft carrier “Shandong” in the Taiwan Strait is “very unusual”.
“But the Chinese have been trying to demonstrate their military might around Taiwan for the past six months or the past year,” he told AFP.
Shandong’s presence in the strait is part of this “general context,” he said.
The last time Taiwanese authorities detected the presence of the Chinese aircraft carrier in the strait was in March 2022.
The ship had been deployed in that area before a telephone conversation between Xi Jinping and his US counterpart, Joe Biden.
Saturday’s show of force comes just over a month after Beijing’s military maneuvers around the island.
During the exercises, China simulated bombing raids and a three-day “encirclement” of the island’s territory.
On the last day, Taiwanese authorities detected 12 Chinese warships and 91 aircraft around the island.
Fighter planes were also deployed from the Shandong aircraft carrier and crossed the midline, Taiwan’s defense ministry said at the time.
The Chinese military drills came just days after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Mary Ortiz is a seasoned journalist with a passion for world events. As a writer for News Rebeat, she brings a fresh perspective to the latest global happenings and provides in-depth coverage that offers a deeper understanding of the world around us.