Taiwan: Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong sailed through Taiwan Strait

Taiwan's defense ministry says Chinese navy vessels led by the Shandong aircraft carrier have sailed through the Taiwan Strait, and are continuing to head north.

The ministry says the carrier strike group began sailing on the Chinese side of the median line of the strait on Wednesday afternoon.

It says that as of 8 a.m. on Thursday, the vessels were continuing to sail north, passing through waters off northern Taiwan.

The ministry says it has deployed "appropriate forces" to keep watch.

Taiwan's defense ministry said the Shandong carrier strike group crossed the Bashi Channel on October 26 and entered the Western Pacific.

Japan's Defense Ministry has been monitoring the carrier strike group's movements. It said fighter jets and helicopters conducted takeoff and landing maneuvers on the Shandong about 570 times between October 28 and November 5.

Japan said on Monday that the Chinese strike group was sailing toward the South China Sea through the Bashi Channel.

China's first domestically built carrier was commissioned in December 2019. The Shandong conducted drills in the Pacific for the first time in April this year.

The aircraft carrier was spotted navigating the Pacific again in September.

Taiwan's defense ministry believes the Chinese navy is trying to increase the Shandong's capability in operational environments around Taiwan and in the open seas.