Taiwan’s military claims to have precise information about the movements and current location of the mainland’s carrier battle group as it sails into the disputed waters of the South China Sea.
The self-ruled island’s defence ministry made the claims in a statement on Thursday but did not elaborate on the position or route of the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning and its escorts, last officially reported to be passing near Japanese waters on June 11.
“The military has been able to exercise all relevant intelligence to get hold of the entire movements of the Liaoning, including those of its ships and planes throughout its voyage in relevant regions,” the ministry said.
“The military has the ability to safeguard Taiwan and maintain peace and stability in the region.”
Japanese defence officials said the Liaoning was travelling with five other vessels, including two guided missile destroyers and two frigates, when it passed through the Miyako Strait – between Okinawa’s main island and Miyako Island – on its way into the Pacific.
Japan is continuing to monitor the mission, which Beijing has said is a routine training exercise conducted in accordance with international law, calling on other nations to respect its right of passage.
Taiwanese news media quoted an unnamed intelligence source who said the battle group had headed to the western Pacific Ocean after leaving the Miyako Strait, sailing close to Guam and the Philippines before entering the South China Sea.
Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported on Wednesday that the Liaoning was likely to be visiting artificial reefs in the Spratly Island chain.
Beijing claims sovereignty over parts of the Spratlys,and has expanded some of its land formations and reinforced them with armaments.
Taiwanese news outlets reported that the Liaoning exercise was intended as a counter-challenge to the United States, which has repeatedly sailed warships through the Taiwan Strait in what Beijing regards as a challenge to its influence in the waterway separating the island from the Chinese mainland.
Washington has also encouraged other countries to send military vessels through the Taiwan Strait in what it calls “freedom of navigation” exercises.
Taiwan’s defence ministry also confirmed on Wednesday that a Canadian warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday – two months after a similar exercise by a French vessel – and that its movements were closely monitored.
The Marine Traffic website tracked the Canadian Halifax-class frigate HMCS Regina as it passed through the Taiwan Strait from the South China Sea before heading towards the East China Sea.
According to the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei, which represents Canada’s interests in the absence of formal ties with Taiwan, the ship was part of a detachment of warships assigned to Operation NEON, Canada’s contribution to the multinational effort to ensure that United Nations sanctions against North Korea are enforced.
The trade office said the Regina’s passage had nothing to do with politics but had followed the “most practical route between Cam Ranh Bay and Northeast Asia”.
“Transit through the Taiwan Strait is not related to making any statement,” it added.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning has no role to play in territorial disputes, Beijing says
- Japan protests Chinese activity near disputed East China Sea islands
- Chinese general tells US to stop using Taiwan, South China Sea to stir up trouble
This article Taiwan ‘watching’ as Liaoning aircraft carrier sails into South China Sea first appeared on South China Morning Post