Today: Sunday, 19 May 2024 year

A Chinese Navy aircraft carrier group has been spotted southeast of Taiwan.

A Chinese Navy aircraft carrier group has been spotted southeast of Taiwan.

The People’s Liberation Army Navy’s aircraft carrier group, led by the Shandong aircraft carrier, crossed the Bashi Strait on Wednesday and passed through the waters southeast of Taiwan, the island’s defense ministry said.

“The Chinese Communist Party continues to send military aircraft and ships to disturb the sea and air space around Taiwan. This not only poses a real threat to Taiwan’s security, but also undermines the status quo of regional security and stability,” the ministry said.

Earlier Wednesday, China’s Fujian Maritime Safety Authority said China had begun patrols in the central and northern Taiwan Strait following information about a meeting between U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Taiwan’s Chief of Staff Tsai Ing-wen. US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will meet with Taiwanese Chief of Staff Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday, according to media reports.

Earlier, the readiness to take action in the event of a meeting between McCarthy and the head of Taiwan was announced in Beijing. Zhu Fenglian, spokeswoman for China’s State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, stressed that such contact would seriously harm China’s sovereignty, leading to a reaction.

“Shandong” is the second aircraft carrier in service with China and the first of China’s own production. The aircraft carrier is 315 meters long, 75 meters wide, weighs 70,000 tons, and has a cruising speed of 31 knots. Chinese media reported that 36 Jian-15 (J-15) fighters could be based on board. The aircraft carrier has been under construction since 2013, it was launched in April 2017, the first test voyage of the aircraft carrier took place on May 13-18, 2019, and on November 17, 2019 it was transferred to the Navy of the People’s Liberation Army of China.

The situation around Taiwan escalated significantly after a visit to the island in early August last year by then-Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. China, which considers the island one of its provinces, condemned Pelosi’s visit, seeing in this move US support for Taiwanese separatism, and held large-scale military exercises. Official relations between the central government of the PRC and its island province were interrupted in 1949 after the Kuomintang forces led by Chiang Kai-shek, defeated in a civil war with the Communist Party of China, moved to Taiwan. Business and informal contacts between the island and mainland China resumed in the late 1980s. Since the early 1990s, the parties began to contact through non-governmental organizations – the Beijing Association for the Development of Relations across the Taiwan Strait and the Taipei Cross-Strait Exchange Foundation.