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

China Daily - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHANG ZHIHAO zhangzhi­hao@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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 sep­a­ratista­genda 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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