Taiwan says tracking Chinese carrier off its southeast coast


Taipei (Reuters) – Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Monday that a Chinese carrier group led by the Shandong was about 120 nautical miles off the southeast of the island’s coast, the same ship that took part in China’s war games around the island earlier this month.

Taiwan previously reported that the Shandong, commissioned in 2019, had sailed into waters in the Western Pacific through the Bashi Channel that separates the island from the Philippines ahead of a meeting between President Tsai Ing-wen and U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles.

After Tsai returned to Taiwan, China staged several days of exercises around the island, with the Shandong and its fighter jets participating in the Pacific Ocean.

In a brief statement, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said the carrier group was still in the Pacific for training and was 120 nautical miles southeast of Cape Eluanbi, on the island’s southern tip, and would pass through those waters.

Taiwan’s armed forces were closely tracking the ships and “appropriately responding”, the ministry said.

During the drills earlier this month China showed extensive images of the Shandong and its fighter jets being launched from the carrier.

In March of last year, the Shandong sailed through the Taiwan Strait, just hours before the Chinese and U.S. presidents were due to talk.

China views democratically-governed Taiwan as its own territory and has been ramping up military pressure in recent years to try to force the island to accept Chinese sovereignty.

Taiwan’s government says only the island’s people can decide their future.

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