Carrier group passing by Taiwan 'won't affect' cross-Straits ties

Source
China Daily
Editor
Zhang Tao
Time
2017-01-12

The passage of China's first carrier battle group through the Taiwan Straits on Wednesday will not affect cross-Straits relations, said Liu Zhenmin, vice-foreign minister.

The CNS Liaoning carrier and its five escort vessels, returning from drills in the South China Sea, sailed north and entered the Taiwan Straits on Wednesday morning.

Taiwan scrambled jets and navy ships to closely follow the battle group and monitor the situation, said Taiwan's "defense ministry" spokesman Chen Chung-chi.

It was the first circumnavigation of Taiwan since the battle group's blue water exercise began in December, when it sailed around the eastern coast of the island, the island's "ministry" added.

The island's overreaction to the move adds more uncertainty and tension to the already tense region, experts said.

"The Taiwan Straits are an international waterway shared by the mainland and Taiwan, so it is normal for CNS Liaoning to pass through in training," Liu said. "It won't affect cross-Straits relations.

"The Chinese Navy conducts regular exercises both along the coast and in the western Pacific during this time of year to boost capabilities," he said. "This training is safe and won't affect security in the region or other countries."

Zhang Junshe, a senior researcher at the People's Liberation Army Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said the fuss over the CNS Liaoning came mostly from Taiwan's separatist officials and media.

"The overhyping injects more fear and uncertainty into cross-Straits relations made brittle by Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen's failure to acknowledge the one-China policy," said Zhang.

"China would take military action, as mandated by the Anti-Secession Law, if the Taiwan authorities were to go against the will of 1.3 billion people and declare independence."

Zuo Xiying, a researcher at the National Academy of Development and Strategy at Renmin University of China, said the combat capability of China's carrier battle group has improved remarkably since 2014, when it conducted its last drill in the South China Sea.

"The voyage was a strategic but reserved warning to Tsai, telling her not to push her separatist agenda overseas, and to expect to see more PLA training in the future," Zuo said.

Tsai met senior lawmakers of the US Republican Party in Houston on Sunday en route to Latin America, as part of a controversial transit stop in the United States.

"It is possible that she will flaunt the threat from the mainland during her trips to the US and Latin America. Cross-Straits relations in the coming years likely will face increasing uncertainty and challenges."

 

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