Taiwan Says Chinese Carrier Group Drills Close to Island

April 13, 2020Updated: April 13, 2020

TAIPEI—A Chinese naval flotilla led by the country’s first aircraft carrier passed by the eastern and southern coasts of Taiwan on April 12 to carry out drills, the island’s defense ministry said, in the latest uptick in military tensions.

Democratically-ruled Taiwan, claimed by China as its sacred territory, has complained of an increased Chinese military presence near the island in the past few weeks, and has told China it should be concentrating on fighting the new CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus rather than menacing the island.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said the Liaoning, China’s first operational aircraft carrier, and five accompanying warships passed first through the Miyako Strait, located between Japan’s islands of Miyako and Okinawa, to the northeast of Taiwan, on Saturday.

On Sunday, the carrier group sailed in waters on Taiwan’s east coast and then into seas to the south of Taiwan, carrying out exercises, the ministry added in a statement.

Chinese Navy’s Aircraft carrier Liaoning
Chinese Navy’s Aircraft carrier Liaoning takes part in a naval parade off the eastern port city of Qingdao, to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy, China, on April 23, 2019. (Jason Lee/File Photo/Reuters)

Taiwan’s armed forces monitored the carrier group’s progress throughout and “completed relevant actions in response to ensure national security and protect regional peace and stability,” it added, without elaborating.

Taiwan typically scrambles fighter jets in response to Chinese maneuvers.

There was no immediate response from China’s Defense Ministry.

China’s two aircraft carriers are no strangers to the waters around Taiwan.

A group of Taiwan Air Force technicians run behind a US-made F-16V fighter jet during an exercise at a military base in Chiayi, southern Taiwan on Jan. 15, 2020. (Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images)

In late December, shortly before presidential and parliamentary elections in Taiwan, China’s newest aircraft carrier, the Shandong, sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait, a move condemned by Taiwan as attempted intimidation.

The U.S. military has also been active in waters near Taiwan recently.

A U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Friday, the same day that Chinese fighter jets drilled in waters close to the island.

Taiwan is the Chinese regime’s most sensitive territorial issue and a potential military flashpoint. The regime has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.

By Ben Blanchard

Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.