Taiwan rebuts reports on Chinese aircraft carrier moves in Strait
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, July 4 (CNA) The Ministry of National Defense on Tuesday rejected reports that a Chinese naval formation headed by the Liaoning aircraft carrier conducted special training operations while in the Taiwan Strait over the weekend, calling them untrue.
In a statement, the ministry said the Liaoning aircraft carrier formation entered Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ) at 4 p.m. on July 1 and left at 9:30 p.m. the next day.
During that time, the ministry released a statement that accurately described how Taiwan's military scrambled jets and navy ships and closely monitored every operation and movement of the Chinese battle group, it said.
"Nothing unusual happened on the seas and in the air at that time," the ministry said, dismissing reports of takeoffs and landings of jet fighters on the Liaoning while the formation sailed through Taiwan's ADIZ as "all untrue and total speculation."
The ministry stressed that any report of military activities should be made based on the information it releases to avoid sparking public scares.
Reports in Taiwan on the aircraft carrier group's activity arose mainly from a video posted Monday on a Chinese weibo account called "I have an appointment with the South China Sea (我和南海有約會)."
The video showed jet fighters repeatedly taking off and landing on the Liaoning while it was supposedly sailing southwards toward Hong Kong in the Taiwan Strait.
The video also showed images taken from the air of the entire formation, which comprised the Liaoning, the destroyers Ji'nan and Yinchuan, the frigate Yantai and a squadron of J-15 fighter jets and helicopters.
The battle group set off from the Qingdao military port in Shandong province on June 25 for a cross-region training operation. It will head to Hong Kong in early July to attend celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover.
Meanwhile, military sources said as the Liaoning formation sailed through the Taiwan Strait, Republic of China (Taiwan) naval and air forces were conducting a joint drill in waters off Penghu Island in the strait overseen by a very high-ranking military official.
The defense ministry confirmed the exercise on Tuesday but only said it was held a few days ago and supervised by Adm. Lee Hsi-ming (李喜明), chief of the general staff of the Armed Forces.
The exercise involved seven naval ships, the Navy's S-70C anti-submarine helicopters, and P-3C maritime patrol aircraft of the Air Force, the ministry said.
(By Lu Hsin-hui and Elizabeth Hsu)
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