Taiwan keeping tabs on China aircraft carrier: MND
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, Jan. 4 (CNA) Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) said on Wednesday that it is closely monitoring China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, currently on drills in the South China Sea.
The ministry said it would not comment on the timing or route by which the vessel would return to its home port of Qingdao, but indicated the military continues to observe its movements.
The ministry was responding to reports that the Liaoning, passed through the first island chain by sailing in international waters off eastern Taiwan before docking in Sanya port, Hainan province, at the end of December.
The aircraft carrier is expected to return to Qingdao through the Taiwan Strait before Chinese New Year, which falls on Jan. 28 this year, completing the first drill in which it circumnavigated Taiwan, reports said.
The ministry said in a news release that any discussion of the time and course of the aircraft carrier's return journey would be pure "speculation" and therefore it declined to comment.
The ministry said that it will continue to surveil the movements of the aircraft carrier and respond accordingly.
The first island chain refers to the major archipelagos off the East Asian continental mainland, including Japan, Taiwan and the northern Philippines.
(By Lu Hsin-hui and Lilian Wu)
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