Taiwan reports Chinese aircraft carrier sailed through strait
TAIPEI (Reuters) -The Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Saturday accompanied by two other ships, Taiwan's defence ministry said, in the latest uptick in military tensions over the island Beijing claims as its own territory.
The ministry said the Shandong, commissioned in 2019, had sailed in a northerly direction around midday through the strait sticking to its median line, which serves as an unofficial barrier between the two sides.
Taiwan's military closely monitored the group using its own ships and aircraft and "responded appropriately", the ministry said in a short statement.
China's defence ministry did not answer calls seeking comment and the country's armed forces made no mention of the sailing on their official social media channels.
The Shandong participated in Chinese military drills around Taiwan last month, operating in the western Pacific.
In March of last year, the Shandong sailed through the Taiwan Strait, just hours before the Chinese and U.S. presidents were due to talk.
China has continued military activities on a smaller scale around Taiwan after formally ending its war games last month.
On Saturday, Taiwan's defence ministry also said over the previous 24 hours that eight Chinese fighter jets had crossed the strait's median line, something Chinese war planes have been doing on a regular basis since earlier war games last August.
China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.
The government of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen strongly disputes Beijing's sovereignty claims and says only the island's people can decide their future.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Tom Hogue)