Chinese warships are heading towards the country’s Hainan province through the South China Sea, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said on Tuesday, according to Reuters. The warships were being led by the country’s sole aircraft carrier, Liaoning, the statement said. However, Beijing claimed the move was part of a routine drill.
The warships first passed between Japanese Islands of Miyako and Okinawa and then southern Taiwan, the news agency added. A Defence Ministry official said the carrier group was maintaining a southwest course toward Hainan and was not heading deeper into the disputed South China Sea.
The drill comes amid tension between United States and China over Taiwan after President-elect Donald Trump indicated changing his stance on the “One China” policy. Earlier this month, Trump during an interview with Fox News said there was no point continuing with the One China policy if Beijing did not make trade concessions. “I don’t want China dictating to me,” he said.
US-China relations worsened when Trump had a telephonic conversation with Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen on December 2. China also lodged a complaint with the US and urged it to “cautiously, properly handle Taiwan issue to avoid unnecessary disturbance into Sin-US relations”.
On December 16, China had seized a US drone in the international waters of South China Sea which had kicked off a diplomatic row. However, Beijing later returned the unmanned underwater vehicle back to the US, adding that the Washington was “hyping up” the incident. China also accused the US of sending ships to the region to conduct military surveillance, AP reported