POST TIME: 19 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM
China admits aircraft carrier sailed thru Taiwan Strait
AFP, Beijing

China admits aircraft carrier sailed thru Taiwan Strait

China confirmed yesterday that its first domestically built aircraft carrier had sailed through the Taiwan Strait for “routine” training and tests after Taipei accused Beijing of intimidation around upcoming elections. The ship, which has yet to be named, is Beijing’s second carrier and will add massive firepower to its navy once it is officially put into service, as the country faces tensions with self-ruled Taiwan and regional neighbours around the disputed South China Sea. The carrier crossed the sensitive waters on Sunday before entering the South China Sea for “scientific research tests and routine training”, navy spokesman Cheng Dewei said on an official social media account. Cheng said it was “normal practice” for carriers that are under testing to conduct cross-regional trials. “It is not aimed at any  specific target and has nothing to do with the current situation,” Cheng said without elaborating. The sail-by comes as Taiwan gears up for presidential elections in January.

Foreign minister Joseph Wu tweeted on Sunday that China “intends to intervene” in Taiwan’s elections”, adding: “Voters won’t be intimidated!” Taiwan’s defence ministry said it had dispatched ships and planes to track and closely monitor the carrier’s movements, and that US and Japanese vessels trailed it in the strait.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Monday the naval operation was “nothing to be surprised about” and in line with international law.

China, which sees democratic Taiwan as part of its territory, has stepped up military drills around the island since Beijing-sceptic President Tsai Ing-wen, who is seeking re-election, came to power in 2016.