China’s sole operational aircraft sails by Taiwan as tensions grow

Vastavam web: China’s sole operational aircraft carrier passed through the Taiwan Strait today, the island’s defence ministry said, as Beijing steps up pressure on its democratic rival.It comes weeks after Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen warned against what she called China’s “military expansion” — the increase of air and naval drills around the island since she came to power in May 2016.The aircraft carrier — a second-hand Soviet ship — caused a stir in Taiwan when it first entered the strait in January last year, viewed as a symbolic show of strength by Beijing.

The defence ministry said the Liaoning carrier and accompanying vessels entered Taiwan’s air defence zone early this morning and left by noon.The fleet, which earlier this month had sailed south through the strait that separates Taiwan and China, was seen again heading north, it said.”There were no unusual activities during the time the fleet passed through the Taiwan Strait. We urge people not to worry,” it added.According to Taiwan’s defence ministry, Chinese warplanes conducted 25 drills around Taiwan between August 2016 and mid-December last year.The latest Liaoning appearance also comes after tensions were further fuelled by China starting new flight routes in the Taiwan Strait without consulting Taiwan.