The Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong at the head of its strike group passed approximately one hundred kilometers from Taiwan, the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense reported. The ships, covered from the air by a dozen or so aircraft, headed to the waters of the Western Pacific to conduct exercises there.
The ministry in Taipei reported on Friday that a group of Chinese ships, led by the Shandong aircraft carrier, sailed within 60 nautical miles (approx. 110 kilometers) of the southeastern coast. Taiwan. At the same time, a violation of Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) by 11 Chinese military aircraft, including J-16 fighters, was reported, which was met with an “appropriate response” by Taiwanese forces.
According to the Hong Kong daily South China Morning Post, this is the first time a Chinese aircraft carrier has passed so close to Taiwan. However, this information is not certain. In the past, Shandong passed near the island several times and also crossed the Taiwan Strait, which is approximately 130 kilometers wide at its narrowest point.
Beijing wants to increase combat readiness
Shandong entered service in 2019. It is the second aircraft carrier in the fleet of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the only ship of this type fully built in the PRC – it was built at the shipyard in Dalian. On board the unit can be 32 fighters and 12 helicopters. Currently in progress China work on the construction of further, even larger aircraft carriers.
Ships in the Taiwan Strait
The communist authorities in Beijing recognize democratically governed Taiwan as part of the People’s Republic of China and seek to take control over it, without ruling out the possibility of using force. However, according to public opinion polls, the majority of Taiwanese are not interested in coming under Beijing’s rule, and the government in Taipei declares to fight to defend its independence.
PAP, Reuters, Guardian, South China Morning Post, tvn24.pl
Main photo source: Li Gang/PAP