Beijing — Taiwanese jets scrambled to shadow a Chinese aircraft carrier passing through narrow waters between the two countries en route to Hong Kong to mark the 20th anniversary of the former British colony’s return to China, Taiwain’s defence ministry said on Sunday. The Liaoning fleet will be open to the public in Hong Kong and showcase the "military might" of the Chinese naval force, Xinhua quoted a China People’s Liberation Army Navy spokesman as saying.
Chinese President Xi Jinping swore in Hong Kong’s new leader on Saturday with a stark warning that Beijing would not tolerate any challenge to its authority in the divided city, in his strongest speech yet amid concern about what some perceive as increased meddling by Beijing.
The Soviet-built Liaoning, whose home port is in northern China, entered Taiwan’s air-defence identification zone (ADIZ) on Saturday and was sailing just west of the middle of the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, Taiwan’s defence ministry said in a statement.
Taiwan military jets and ships were deployed in response to monitor the fleet’s passage, the ministry said. Nothing abnormal had been detected as the Chinese battle group headed southwest and was expected to leave Taiwan’s ADIZ by Sunday night, it said.
This is the third time that the Liaoning has sailed near self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own, in recent months for what Beijing says were routine drills in December and again in January.