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China's carrier fleet did not cross Taiwan Strait midline: MND

2013/11/28 12:08:15

Taipei, Nov. 28 (CNA) China's Liaoning aircraft carrier battle group did not cross the centerline of the Taiwan Strait when it passed through the waters on its way to the South China Sea, a Defense Ministry official said Thursday.

MND spokesman Maj. Gen. Luo Shuo-he said the military stayed fully abreast of the situation during the entire period that the Chinese fleet was passing through the strait that separates Taiwan from China.

"Our warplanes and warships kept close tabs on the Chinese fleet's passage through the Taiwan Strait," Luo said in an interview with CNA.

Citing military intelligence, Luo said the Liaoning battle group entered Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ) at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday and sailed south in waters some 14 nautical miles west of the Taiwan Strait centerline.

"None of the warships in the mainland Chinese fleet trespassed across the centerline of the strait throughout the period," Luo said.

Besides keeping a close eye on the movement of the fleet, Luo said the military took necessary measures in accodance with standard operating procedures and relevant regulations. He did not elaborate.

China's official Xinhua news agency said earlier in the day that the Liaoning battle group had passed through the Taiwan Strait and entered the South China Sea.

The battle group, which includes two destroyers and two frigates in addition to China's only aircraft carrier, departed Qindao early Wednesday for a training mission, according to a previous Xinhua report.

This marks the sole Chinese aircraft carrier's first long-distance training and testing voyage, according to the report.

The exercise comes at a sensitive time, with the regional situation strained by China's Nov. 23 announcement of its demarcation of an East China Sea ADIZ that covers the disputed Diaoyutai Islands.

The uninhabited island cluster, which lies some 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan, has been under Japan's administrative control since 1972, but is also claim by Taiwan and China.

(By Claudia Liu and Sofia Wu)

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