World War 3 tensions rise as China sends WAR FLEET towards Taiwan

China's sole aircraft carrier Liaoning in 2014

China’s sole aircraft carrier Liaoning in 2014

MILITARY tensions have been raised after China sent a fleet of warships towards Taiwan in what it called a “routine exercise” in the South China Sea.

China’s sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, and five vessels were part of the armada that passed south of Taiwan in the early hours of Boxing Day.

The fleet passed 90 nautical miles out of Taiwan’s most southerly point via the Bashi Channel that runs between Taiwan and the Philippines.

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The ships then passed southeast of the Pratas Islands, also controlled by Taiwan before heading southwest.

Ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi said: “Staying vigilant and flexible has always been the normal method of maintaining airspace security.

The spokesman declined to say if Taiwan fighter jets had been scrambled or if submarines had been deployed in response.

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Senior Taiwan opposition Nationalist lawmaker Johnny Chiang said the Liaoning exercise was China’s signal to the United States that it has broken through the “first island chain”, an area that includes Japan’s Ryukyu Islands and Taiwan.

The state-run newspaper Global Times said in an editorial: “The Chinese fleet will cruise to the Eastern Pacific sooner or later.

“When China’s aircraft carrier fleet appears in offshore areas of the U.S. one day, it will trigger intense thinking about maritime rules.”

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Japan said late on Sunday it had spotted six Chinese naval vessels including the Liaoning travelling through the passage between Miyako and Okinawa and into the Pacific.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Monday the voyage showed China’s expanding military capability and Japan would take any steps regarding warning and surveillance activity.The move comes amid rising political tensions between China and the USA which had been sparked by President-elect Donald Trump who took a call from Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen congratulating him on his victory in the recent election.

The move breached the diplomatic “one-nation” protocol that recognises there is only one state called China, which incorporates Taiwan.

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Last December, the defence ministry confirmed China was building a second aircraft carrier but its launch date is unclear. The aircraft carrier programme is a state secret.

A fighter jet prepares to take off from the Liaoning

A fighter jet prepares to take off from the Liaoning

The move comes amid rising political tensions between China and the USA which had been sparked by President-elect Donald Trump who took a call from Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen congratulating him on his victory in the recent election.

The move breached the diplomatic “one-nation” protocol that recognises there is only one state called China, which incorporates Taiwan.

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Last December, the defence ministry confirmed China was building a second aircraft carrier but its launch date is unclear. The aircraft carrier programme is a state secret.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen

Beijing could build multiple aircraft carriers over the next 15 years, the Pentagon said in a report last year.

China claims most of the South China Sea through which about $5 trillion (£4.07 trillion) in shipping trade passes every year.

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Neighbours Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

In a separate move, China has signed an agreement yesterday establishing diplomatic ties with former Taiwan ally Sao Tome and Principe.

Sao Tome and Principe Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada said on Thursday that breaking relations with Taiwan was the correct decision given China’s importance as a strategic partner and the need to improve the lives of Sao Tomeans.

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The diplomatic initiative came after the small west African state severed relations with Taiwan.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Sao Tome counterpart, Urbino Botelho, signed the agreement in front of a handful of invited reporters at a state guest house in western Beijing.

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Mr Wang said: “Sao Tome will get full support and help from a permanent member of the UN Security Council and the world’s largest developing nation.

“China is willing to support Sao Tome’s quest for socio-economic development and efforts to improve livelihoods and well-being to the best of its ability.”

(Source : express.co.uk)

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