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China's carrier fleet leaves Taiwan Strait
Publication Date : 29-11-2013
China's Liaoning aircraft carrier battle group has passed through the Taiwan Strait and is heading for the South China Sea, the Ministry of National Defence (MND) said yesterday.
Military spokesman Luo Shuo-he said the military stayed fully abreast of the situation during the entire period that the Chinese fleet was passing through the strait. The MND dispatched military vessels and aircraft to closely monitor the Chinese battle group's passage through the strait, he added.
According to the MND, the Chinese fleet entered Taiwan's Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) at 10:30am Wednesday and left around 4am yesterday. The carrier then headed towards the South China Sea, Luo added.
The Chinese fleet maintained its course on the Chinese side of a cross-strait median line during the entire period, he stressed. The median line is a theoretical line that divides the Taiwan Strait into territory controlled by Taipei and Beijing.
The MND will continue to closely monitor the Chinese fleet's operations in the South China Sea and take appropriate responsive measure should the need arise, he noted.
China's official Xinhua News Agency reported earlier in the day that the Liaoning battle group had passed through the Taiwan Strait and entered the South China Sea.
The battle group includes two destroyers and two frigates in addition to China's only aircraft carrier, which departed Qingdao early Wednesday for a training mission, Xinhua's report said.
China's Liaoning aircraft carrier was commissioned by the PLA Navy on Sept 25, 2012 after undergoing successful sea trials. Foreign experts have predicted that it will be fully operational by 2017.
The aircraft carrier's participation in training exercises in the disputed South China Sea, in areas that are also claimed by Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines, came at a sensitive moment.
Last Saturday Beijing established an East China Sea ADIZ that includes the disputed Diaoyutai Islands, claimed by both Taiwan and Japan. The Chinese government's unilateral announcement has drawn strong protest from Japan, Korea and the US.
Taiwan's government also said on Saturday that it is concerned about the potential ramifications of China's latest policy.