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Iran Press TV

Taiwan deploys ships, aircraft in Taiwan Strait as China's Shandong carrier passes island

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 20 December 2020 5:43 PM

Taiwan has deployed navy and air force after a Chinese aircraft carrier group led by the country's newest carrier, the Shandong, sailed through the Taiwan Strait just one day after the US sent a warship to the sensitive waterway.

Although it is not the first time that China's carriers passed close to Taiwan, it came amid the intensification of tensions between Taipei and Beijing, which considers Taiwan as a breakaway province that should be reunited with the mainland.

Reuters quoted Taiwan's Defense Ministry as saying on Sunday that the Shandong was being accompanied by four warships set out from China's northern port of Dalian last Thursday.

The ministry added that the carrier group passed through the narrow Taiwan Strait before taking a direction southwards.

The ministry noted that six warships and eight air force aircraft were dispatched to the region to "stand guard" and monitor the Chinese ships' movements.

China's Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Taiwan has protested repeated military moves by China such as its flying of air force aircraft near the island, however, Beijing says such drills are routine exercises in the disputed South China Sea and aim to protect its national sovereignty.

China on Saturday said its military had tailed and monitored a US warship through the Taiwan Strait, warning the United States against jeopardizing peace and stability in the sensitive waterway.

The guided missile destroyer USS Mustin sailed in the Taiwan Strait. The US Navy described the passage as "a routine Taiwan Strait transit… that [is] in accordance with international law."

The Chinese military, which has constantly warned the US against such missions in the region, said its air and naval forces "tailed and monitored" the vessel throughout the voyage.

This was the 12th sailing through the strait by a US warship this year.

Under the internationally-recognized "One China" policy, almost all world countries — including the US — recognize Chinese sovereignty over the self-ruled Taiwan.

But the US constantly sells weapons to the island, bypassing Beijing, and avidly backs its secessionist president, Tsai Ing-wen. Washington presses Taiwan to further build up its military so it can face what it calls threats from China.

Beijing, however, describes the US contact with Taiwan and the weapons sales to the island as a violation of China's sovereignty.

Addressing a regular press briefing in Beijing last month, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, called on the United States to halt its expansion of ties with Taiwan, after Washington and Taipei declared they would hold economic talks.

The Pentagon says US State Department has cleared the potential sale of four MQ-9 SeaGuardian drones — worth 600 million dollars — to Taiwan in a formal notification to Congress.

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