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Taiwanese, Japanese warships track Chinese frigate

PLAN frigate prowls 125 km off Keelung coast, 62 km from disputed Diaoyutai islands

Satellite image of three warships captured by PlanetLabs and posted by Twitter user August.

Satellite image of three warships captured by PlanetLabs and posted by Twitter user August.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwanese and Japanese warships reportedly teamed up Saturday (May 1) to shadow a Chinese frigate sailing near their respective countries' waters.

On Saturday, the ship-tracking Twitter account August posted a satellite image showing a People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Type 054A frigate prowling the waters of the East China Sea. Giving chase to its south was an Abukuma-class destroyer escort from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

Southwest of the frigate, what appeared to be either a Kee Lung class destroyer or Chi Yang class frigate from the Taiwan Navy could be seen shadowing the Chinese warship. When the satellite image was captured, the Chinese frigate was estimated to be about 125 kilometers from Keelung City, 132 km from the Japanese island of Yonaguni, and only 62 km from the disputed Diaoyutai Islands.

That same day, Japan's Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced the encounter and released footage of the PLAN warship. According to the MoD, the Chinese frigate had been spotted about 150 km northeast of Miyakojima on April 30.

Taiwanese, Japanese warships track Chinese frigate
Photo of Chinese frigate taken by Japanese aircraft. (MoD photo)

The MoD stated that the Chinese frigate had then headed west and sailed between Keelung and Yonaguni on Saturday before heading north toward the East China Sea.

As its position on Saturday was near the Diaoyutai Islands, Japan's Maritime Self Defense Force not only sent a destroyer but also a Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol plane and a Lockheed P-3 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft to monitor the ship from the air.

During a meeting of the Legislative Yuan on Monday (May 3), Taiwan's Minister of Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said that the military is fully aware of the enemy's latest movements, whether they are near Keelung or other areas. He stated that "as long as they are within the scope of our surveillance and reconnaissance and scope of our responsibility, including the contingency zone, we will definitely send ships or aircraft to deal with it."

Chiu added that the military will not announce which nations it cooperates with, but when it comes to self-defense, "We will carry out whatever surveillance and investigation is necessary.