Monday, December 26, 2016

Chinese carrier crosses disputed South China Sea amid renewed tensions

Taiwan said Monday it was closely monitoring the movements of China's sole aircraft carrier and five other warships, which earlier passed south of the island on an exercise held amid worsening cross-strait relations.

The Liaoning and five escorts sailed 20 nautical miles outside Taiwan's air defence identification zone (ADIZ) in the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines on Sunday, the defence ministry said.

The ships continued sailing southwest after passing 90 nautical miles (150 kilometres) to the south of Taiwan's southernmost point Eluanbi Monday morning. They later travelled to the southeast of the Dongsha Islands in the South China Sea, the ministry added.

"The military has been on guard and fully monitoring the Liaoning. We urge the public to rest assured," it said.

Taiwanese media said an unspecified number of F-16 fighter jets and warships were deployed in Taiwan's ADIZ to closely watch the Chinese warships. The ministry declined to comment.

Japan's defence ministry said earlier that eight Chinese vessels, including the carrier and three destroyers, were spotted by one of its ships in the central part of the East China Sea on Saturday afternoon.

Chinese media has reported that the aircraft carrier was headed for the Pacific on exercise for the first time.


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