The Chinese Navy has confirmed the Liaoning aircraft carrier, along with its escort vessels, completed passage through the Taiwan Strait on Thursday morning and was continuing with a cross-sea mission.
The passage was conducted in accordance with the requirements of large ships passing through the channel, and Chinese sailors ensured the safety of the transition with professional operation, according to the Navy spokesperson’s remarks in a statement released early on Thursday morning.
Taiwan local media said the Liaoning aircraft carrier began its passage early Wednesday, after taking part in drills in the South China Sea. It was reported that the Taiwan military had dispatched jets and ships to closely watch the Liaoning formation as it passed.
Both China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council have repeatedly said that the Liaoning battle group started to carry out blue sea training in December, according to the Navy’s annual plan.
Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said the passage of the Liaoning formation through the strait was part of that training, adding “it won’t affect cross-Straits relations.”
The Liaoning aircraft carrier traversed the Taiwan Strait for first time in November 2013, entering the South China Sea for scientific and routine exercises, just one year after it was commissioned to the navy as China’s first carrier.
The Liaoning battle group had earlier sailed through the Miyako Strait, entering the Western Pacific region on December 25.
When the ship formation re-entered the South China Sea, the group rounded Taiwan island, passing between the Japanese islands of Miyako and Okinawa and through the Bashi Channel, before sailing towards the island of Hainan.
During this period, Taiwan also closely monitored the movements of the Liaoning.