Voice of America (VOA) China

China Aircraft Carrier ‘Shandong’ Engages In Drills Near Taiwan

Voice of America (VOA) China

Amid a high-profile meeting between Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen and US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, China’s aircraft carrier Shandong engaged in a drill near Taiwan on Thursday, Al Jazeera reported.

The Shandong carrier immediately drew attention off the East Coast when Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen returned home after meeting the US House Speaker.
Quoting Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng, Al Jazeera reported that the aircraft carrier was located 200 nautical miles (370 km) off Taiwan’s east coast. The carrier was being watched by Taiwanese warships at a distance of five to six nautical miles, he subsequently informed.

The drills coincide with Tsai and McCarthy’s stopover in California, which China fiercely denounced. Beijing believes Taiwan is it’s own and hasn’t ruled out using force to seize control of the island.

Notably, Shandong is China’s first home-built aircraft carrier. The aircraft carrier, along with a number of other Chinese navy vessels entered the Pacific on Wednesday by passing via the Bashi Channel south of Taiwan, reported Al Jazeera.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen met the speaker of the United States House of Representatives, McCarthy, on Wednesday (local time) in California. This was the first time when Taiwan’s President met with a US House speaker on American soil.

Both leaders briefly shook the hands after her SUV pulled up to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, northwest of Los Angeles.

Taiwan’s President met McCarthy despite the threats of retaliation from China. Washington’s current “One China” policy acknowledges Beijing’s claims but does not endorse it, according to The New York Post.

The meeting between the two leaders is seen as something China extremely disapproves of and has repeatedly shown opposition to.

Ahead of their meeting, China dispatched several maritime vessels near Taiwan’s coast. On Wednesday night local time, Beijing sent a “large scale patrol and rescue vessel” to the central and northern Taiwan Strait for a three-day “joint patrol and inspection” operation, China’s Fujian Maritime Safety Administration said in a statement.

Earlier in March, the US State Department said that China has ‘overreacted’ to Taiwan President Tsai’s visit to the US.

US Department of State Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said the transits of the Taiwan President are consistent with the longstanding policy of Washington.

The statement of Vedant Patel comes after the Chinese spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council said that China firmly opposes Tsai Ing-wen’s planned “transit” visit to the US to meet US officials and will take resolute countermeasures in such an event, CGTN reported. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday embarked on a 10-day visit to Central America, which will include transit in the US, CNN reported. (ANI)

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