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USS Nimitz, China's Shandong both off east coast of Taiwan

Shandong 200 nautical miles east of Taiwan, Nimitz 400 nautical miles away

USS Nimitz, Shandong. (Wikimedia Commons, Weibo images)

USS Nimitz, Shandong. (Wikimedia Commons, Weibo images)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Both America's Nimitz and China's Shandong aircraft carriers have been detected patrolling off the east coast of Taiwan following a historic meeting between Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday (April 5).

Prior to the meeting, China Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning (毛寧) on Monday (April 3) threatened “China will take resolute measures to defend the completeness of its sovereignty and territory." On the eve of the meeting, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced that it had spotted the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) aircraft carrier Shandong passing through the Bashi Channel on its way to waters southeast of Taiwan.

Despite China's threats, McCarthy greeted Tsai at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California at 10 a.m. Pacific Time on Wednesday. The two-hour closed-door meeting, which included 18 other bipartisan members of Congress, was historic as it was only the third meeting between a Taiwan president and a standing house speaker and the first to take place on U.S. soil.

During a session of the Legislative Yuan's Foreign and National Defense Committee on Thursday (April 6), Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said the Shandong is about 200 nautical miles east of Eluanbi, but that no carrier-based aircraft have been observed taking off or landing. As for the Nimitz, Chiu said the U.S. aircraft carrier is about 400 nautical miles east of Taiwan.

Chiu said that he cannot confirm that the U.S. Navy dispatched vessels because of the Shandong, but the Nimitz is now in the same vicinity as the Shandong. He emphasized that as soon as the Shandong left its home port, Taiwan's armed forces had already detected its movements and that it was embarking on its 21st mission.

The defense minister said the Navy's Kang Ding-class and Cheng Kung-class frigates were dispatched in response to the Shandong's movements. He said that the frigates are currently located about five to six nautical miles away from the Shandong.