Timing of China’s aircraft carrier sailing through Taiwan Strait seen ‘delicate’

In its Asia Unbound blog hosted by Asian study expert Elizabeth C. Economy, the Council on Foreign Relations noted that the Chinese move represented a new military posturing towards Taiwan.

China’s battle group, Liaoning, sailed into the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, leading Taipei to scramble F-16 fighter jets and ships to “surveil and control” the movement of the Liaoning and its accompanying five warships.

The carrier ship group was returning to Qingdao after training exercises in the South China Sea, and did not technically veer into Taiwanese waters during its ten-hour journey through the Taiwan Strait.

“This new military posturing by China comes at a delicate time in cross-strait relations,” it said.

On her way to a diplomatic visit in Central America, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen recently met with prominent U.S. politicians such as Senator Ted Cruz in a visit that, unsurprisingly, met with Chinese censure.

Tsai’s Central America visit was itself intended to shore up support from Taiwan’s dwindling number of diplomatic allies after São Tomé and Príncipe’s recent diplomatic recognition of China, which left Taiwan with just twenty-one diplomatic allies.

Since last May, when Tsai refused to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus in her inauguration speech, relations between China and Taiwan have deteriorated.

China views the consensus, a tacit agreement that there is only one China, with each side having its own interpretation, as crucial to ensuring stable cross-strait ties.

An unprecedented phone call between Tsai and U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump last month injected further uncertainty into China-Taiwan relations.

The think tank said while Beijing may continue to claim that its recent maneuvers are normal training exercises, China’s most recent round of military exercises in the disputed South China Sea continues to sustain tensions with its Pacific neighbors in a theater already full of fraught enmities and uneasy allies.

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