TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taiwanese military deployed multiple aircraft and ships to monitor China’s first indigenous aircraft carrier — the Shandong — as it transited through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday (Dec. 20).
The Shandong was accompanied by four escort vessels as it left the Chinese port of Dalian on Dec. 17 and sailed south, transiting through the strait, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) said in a statement Sunday. In response, the Taiwan Navy sent six ships, while the Air Force mobilized eight planes to monitor the Chinese carrier group during their transit, CNA reported.
The MND stressed that the armed forces have the confidence and ability to protect the country, ensure national security, and maintain regional stability.
This marks the second time the Shandong has transited through the Taiwan Strait, with the first passage occurring on Dec. 26, 2019, according to the MND. Compared to China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which can only carry 36 aircraft, including 24 fighter jets, the Shandong can carry 44 aircraft in total, including up to 32 fighter planes.
Beijing has been sending military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone regularly for the past three months in an attempt to intimidate the country.
On Saturday (Dec. 19) morning, the USS Mustin — an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer — sailed through the strait, marking the 12th such passage this year by the U.S. Navy. “The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet said in a press statement.