Taiwan has deployed its navy and air force to track a Chinese aircraft carrier group led by the country’s newest carrier, the Shandong, as it sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait, the day after a US warship transited the same waterway.
While it is not the first time China’s carriers have passed close to Taiwan, it comes at a time of heightened tension between Taipei and Beijing, which claims the democratically ruled island as its territory.
Taiwan has complained of repeated Chinese military activity, including China’s regular flying of military aircraft near the island.
China says such drills are aimed at protecting the country’s sovereignty.
Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said the Shandong, which was formally commissioned one year ago, and four warships had set out from the northern Chinese port of Dalian on Thursday.
After passing through the narrow Taiwan Strait on Sunday, the carrier group was continuing in a southerly direction, it said.
China’s Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
China has previously said that trips by its carriers through the strait are routine missions, often on their way to exercises in the disputed South China Sea.
Taiwan’s ministry said that six warships and eight aircraft were sent to “stand guard” and monitor the Chinese ships’ movements.
“With the support of the people, the national armed forces have the confidence and ability to guard the homeland, and ensure national security and safeguard regional peace and stability,” it said.
On Saturday, a US warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait, the 12th such mission by the US Navy this year.
China’s military said it tailed the ship.
Beijing has been angered by increased US support for Taiwan, including new arms sales and visits to Taipei by senior officials, further straining already poor Sino-US ties.