Taiwan held military drills as Chinese fleet sailed through strait

TAIPEI • Taiwan's military said air and sea exercises were held off the coast of Penghu, shortly after a Chinese warship flotilla passed through the Taiwan Strait.

The military did not specify when the exercises took place, but Taiwan's Central News Agency cited unnamed sources as saying that they occurred at the same time a Chinese battleship formation passed through the strait en route to Hong Kong over the weekend.

China's aircraft carrier fleet will make a port call in Hong Kong to mark the 20th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison.

It is due to arrive tomorrow, Hong Kong media said.

The formation comprises the CNS Liaoning, China's first aircraft carrier; the CNS Jinan and CNS Yinchuan missile destroyers; the CNS Yantai missile frigate; and J-15 carrier-borne fighter jets and helicopters, the China Daily reported.

Taiwan's military released a statement on Tuesday, saying the Chief of General Staff Lee Hsi-ming oversaw drills that involved seven navy warships, S-70C anti-submarine helicopters and P-3C anti-submarine aircraft. He also visited the air force base in Magong and told its ground crew to be combat-ready at all times, in terms of both their mentality and training.

The Chinese fleet entered Taiwan's air defence identification zone at about 4pm last Saturday and continued to sail south-west along the Taiwan Strait until exiting the zone slightly later than expected at 9.30pm the next day, according to Taiwan's military.

It said Chief of General Staff Lee visited the air force in Chiayi after the joint exercise in Penghu and reviewed emergency take-off training of F-16 fighter jets at the base.

It was the third time that the Liaoning had sailed near Taiwan in recent months, for what Beijing has said were routine drills in December and again in January.

THE CHINA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2017, with the headline 'Taiwan held military drills as Chinese fleet sailed through strait'. Print Edition | Subscribe