China aircraft carrier ‘Shandong’ engages in drills near Taiwan after Tsai, McCarthy meet in US
7 April, 2023 | Vaishali Sharma
China's aircraft carrier Shandong conducted an exercise near Taiwan on Thursday amid a high-profile meeting between Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen and US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
China’s aircraft carrier Shandong conducted an exercise near Taiwan on Thursday amid a high-profile meeting between Taiwan President Tsai Ing-Wen and US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
When Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen came home after meeting with US House Speaker Paul Ryan, the Shandong carrier grabbed immediate attention off the East Coast. According to Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng, the aircraft carrier was 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres) off Taiwan’s east coast. Taiwanese warships were watching the carrier from a distance of five to six nautical miles away, he later said.
The drills overlap with Tsai and McCarthy’s visit to California, which China has strongly condemned. Beijing considers Taiwan to be its own and has not ruled out the use of force to seize control of the island.
Shandong is notable for being China’s first home-built aircraft carrier. According to Al Jazeera, the aircraft carrier, together with a number of other Chinese navy vessels, reached the Pacific on Wednesday by passing via the Bashi Channel south of Taiwan.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen met with McCarthy, the speaker of the United States House of Representatives, in California on Wednesday (local time). Taiwan’s President met with a US House speaker for the first time on US territory.
Once her SUV arrived at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, northwest of Los Angeles, both presidents exchanged brief handshakes. Despite China’s warnings of punishment, Taiwan’s President met with McCarthy. According to The New York Post, Washington’s current “One China” policy recognises Beijing’s claims but does not endorse them.
China strongly opposes the meeting between the two presidents and has often expressed its displeasure.
China despatched six maritime vessels near Taiwan’s coast ahead of their meeting. Beijing dispatched a “large scale patrol and rescue vessel” to the central and northern Taiwan Strait on Wednesday night local time for a three-day “joint patrol and inspection” operation, according to a statement from China’s Fujian Maritime Safety Administration.
The US State Department stated earlier in March that China had ‘overreacted’ to Taiwan President Tsai’s visit to the US. The transits of Taiwan’s President, according to US Department of State Senior Deputy Spokesman Vedant Patel, are consistent with Washington’s longtime stance.
Vedant Patel’s statement comes after the Chinese spokeswoman for the State Council’s Taiwan Relations Office stated that China strongly opposes Tsai Ing-planned wen’s “transit” visit to the US to meet with American officials and will take severe countermeasures in such a scenario, according to CGTN. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen arrived in Central America on Wednesday for a 10-day visit that would include a stopover in the United States, according to CNN.