China sends aircraft carrier into Taiwan Strait

China sent an aircraft carrier ship into the Taiwan Strait Wednesday morning, most likely as a showing of naval military power intended to keep Taiwan in check.

According to Taiwan officials, China’s sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, took a little jaunt through the Taiwan Strait on its way home from conducting drills in the South China Sea. It did not enter Taiwanese waters but did skim its air defense identification zone (ADIZ) as if to say, “don’t get any ideas.” Taiwan responded by sending a frigate to monitor the ship’s passage, as well as scrambling (quickly getting into the air) F-16 fighter jets and a P-3C anti-submarine plane.

This flex comes amid rising tensions between the two countries, which were exacerbated when President-elect Trump broke with decades of military protocol by yakking on the phone with Taiwan’s newly elected president Tsai Ing-wen, who supports official independence from China. This was greeted by some as a bold and clever move to shift the balance of power back towards the US from China, and a diplomatic blunder by others.

Experts worry the incoming president will respond to this latest salvo by escalating the situation further.

Via The New York Times:

“It’s a show of force, and I think it is intended in part to intimidate, and that’s worrisome from the U.S. and Taiwan’s point of view because we don’t know how much more they are going to ratchet up these pressures and tensions,” said Bonnie S. Glaser, senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “If the Trump administration does see this as a test of U.S. resolve, I suspect they’ll push back pretty forcefully.”

Taiwan’s government is urging its citizens not to panic.

Via the BBC:

The head of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, Chang Hsiao-Yueh, said the authorities were monitoring China’s actions and appealed for calm. “I want to emphasize that our government has sufficient capability to protect our national security. It is not necessary to overly panic. On the other hand, any threats would not benefit cross-strait ties at all. Together we should show mutual good will.”

Gulp.

[photo: iStock]