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President on top of Chinese aircraft carrier's movements

2017/01/11 15:59:36

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) receives a briefing during a visit to a Taiwanese factory in Nicaragua to learn about its operations there.

Managua, Jan. 10 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who is in Nicaragua as part of a Central American tour, has been briefed by senior national security officials in Taipei to stay aware of the latest developments of a Chinese aircraft carrier that is sailing north through the Taiwan Strait Wednesday.

Tsai called Chen Chun-lin (陳俊麟), deputy secretary-general of the National Security Council, and Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬), respectively, to learn more about the incident and the military's response measures, according to Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺), who is traveling with the president.

After the briefing, Tsai asked national security-related agencies and the Ministry of National Defense to continue to follow the situation closely, Huang said.

The president also urged the public to rest assured, pledging that the government will make every effort to ensure national security.

Huang added that the government has been monitoring closely the movements of the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning and its escort vessels.

In Taipei, the defense ministry said it is closely monitoring the Liaoning, China's first aircraft carrier, which entered Taiwan's air defense identification zone from the southwest Wednesday morning and continued to sail north through the Taiwan Strait.

The Liaoning and its escort vessels were apparently on their way back to its base in northeastern China from the South China Sea after training exercises. Some unconfirmed reports said that the passage would take about 10 hours.

Taiwanese lawmakers across party lines saw the incident, which occurs amid strained cross-strait ties, as a warning from China to Taiwan.

It occurred as Tsai is visiting four of Taiwan's Central American allies in an effort to consolidate bilateral ties, after the small West African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan on Dec. 20, 2016 and later resumed official ties with China.

Cross-strait relations have cooled since Tsai took office in May 2016, mainly due to her refusal to heed Beijing's calls to recognize the "1992 consensus" as the sole political foundation for cross-strait exchanges.

The "1992 consensus" refers to a tacit understanding reached in 1992 between China and Taiwan, which was then under a Kuomintang (KMT) government, that there is only one China, with both sides free to interpret what that means.

(By Sophia Yeh and Elaine Hou)
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