The Ministry of National Defense yesterday assured the public that it was monitoring the passage of the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong through the Taiwan Strait.
The Shandong is China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier and the second in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). It officially entered service on Tuesday last week.
China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was refitted from the hulk of the Soviet-era Varyag.
The ministry said that it was monitoring the passage of the Shandong and its escorts as they made their way north through the Taiwan Strait.
It called on the public to remain calm, saying that it would uphold its duty to protect the nation, and maintain regional peace and stability.
Since January 2017, Chinese aircraft carriers have transited the Taiwan Strait six times, including yesterday’s passage, ministry data showed.
The first was when the Liaoning was in transit from China’s Hainan Island to Shandong Province in July 2017.
In March last year, the carrier sailed through a section of Taiwan’s northeastern air defense identification zone west of the median line of the Taiwan Strait. In June that year, the Liaoning transited the Strait en route to its base in Shandong.
In June last year, the vessel passed through the waterway while returning to base.
In November last year, the Shandong sailed through the Strait, trailed by US and Japanese vessels.
The PLAN aims to have four carrier battlegroups by 2030, the Institute for National Defense and Security Research said in its 2019 Assessment on the Development of the People’s Republic of China Politics and Military.
The expansion and militarization of islands in the South China Sea would offer potential bases for the PLAN if China resumes hostilities with Taiwan and attacks from the south, the report said.
An approach from the South China Sea limits the possibility of the US attacking from behind, it said.
The risk of China conducting a military offensive against Taiwan is growing, it added.
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