China has sailed a carrier group into the Taiwan Strait led by its first domestically built aircraft carrier as election campaigning kicked into high gear yesterday in Taiwan.
The Ministry of National Defense announced the sailing in the Strait just hours after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party named former premier William Lai (賴清德) as her running mate for the Jan. 11 elections.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said China plans to intervene in the elections, just as Tsai had named her running mate and “the campaign shifts into high gear.”
“Voters won’t be intimidated! They’ll say NO to China at the ballot box,” he tweeted.
The Chinese carrier group sailed in a southerly direction through the Strait, trailed by US and Japanese ships, the defense ministry said in a statement, without giving details on exactly when it happened.
The government scrambled ships and aircraft to monitor the group, and “ensure national security and safeguarding of regional peace and stability,” it added.
Saying the public needs not worry, as the military is closely monitoring the situation, Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) yesterday called on Beijing to maintain cross-strait peace, stability and the well-being of the people, which are the common responsibility and goal of both sides of the Strait.
The Chinese Ministry of National Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The still-unnamed carrier was launched last year, but Chinese military experts have told state media that it is not expected to enter service until next year, once it has been fully equipped and armed.
A Japan Self Defense Forces spokesman said he had no information about the movement of the Chinese carrier or any Japanese ships nearby.
Additional reporting by Yang Chun-hui
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