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PLA Sails Aircraft Carrier Near Taiwan Following Tsai-McCarthy Meeting

Communist China issues another promise of "strong and resolute measures" as Taiwan-U.S. relations grow
Leo Timm
Leo Timm covers China-related news, culture, and history. Follow him on Twitter at @kunlunpeaks
Published: April 6, 2023
The aircraft carrier Shandong, or Type 002, in Dalian, China in August 2017. (GG001213/via Wikipedia)

The mainland Chinese regime issued a rebuke of the April 5 meeting between Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen and U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), promising “strong and resolute measures” to the “high-profile” meeting that reflects deepening cooperation between Washington and the self-governing island that Beijing claims sovereignty over.

On the day of the meeting, which took place at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) sent a naval sortie consisting of the Type 002 Shandong aircraft carrier, a Type 054A (“Zhangkai II”) frigate, and a supply vessel through the Bashi Strait, which separates Taiwan island from the Philippines.

The information was reported by the Japanese Ministry of Defense on April 6 (Thursday). The ROC Ministry of National Defense stated that as the Shandong and its support ships patrolled near Taiwan, American aircraft carrier U.S.S. Nimitz sailed about 400 nautical miles east of the island.

Taiwan, with a population of about 23 million, is officially governed as the Republic of China (ROC), which ran all of China before losing the civil war to the communists in 1949 and being forced to retreat from the mainland.

In 1971, the U.N. expelled the ROC from its membership and recognized Communist China instead, resulting in most countries maintaining only informal relations with Taiwan.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) condemns any diplomatic or political moves towards what it considers “Taiwan independence,” including “high profile” meetings between ROC and foreign officials. Beijing sees reunification of Taiwan under communist rule as a top priority.

On Thursday, the mainland’s foreign ministry issued a statement criticizing the U.S. for greenlighting the Tsai-McCarthy meeting, calling it an act that “seriously infringes upon China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” in support of “‘Taiwan independence’ separatists’ political activities.”

The PLA routinely sends combat aircraft and naval vessels to intimidate Taiwan and tire its air force, especially during incidents that press on the CCP’s “red lines.”

These actions and Beijing’s complaints about Taiwan’s activities have become a trope. Russian netizens have satirically used the phrase “Chinese final warning” to describe a threat one is unable or unwilling to follow through on.

Launched in 2017, the Shandong is China’s second aircraft carrier. The PLA Navy fields three carriers and is rapidly expanding its force of destroyers and smaller vessels.