China confirms aircraft carrier sailed through Taiwan Strait
Beijing: China confirmed on Monday that its first domestically built aircraft carrier had sailed through the Taiwan Strait for "routine" training and tests after Taipei accused Beijing of intimidation around upcoming elections.
The ship, which has yet to be named, is Beijing's second carrier and will add massive firepower to its navy once it is officially put into service, as the country faces tensions with self-ruled Taiwan and regional neighbours around the disputed South China Sea.
The carrier crossed the sensitive waters on Sunday before entering the South China Sea for "scientific research tests and routine training", navy spokesman Cheng Dewei said on an official social media account.
Cheng said it was "normal practice" for carriers that are under testing to conduct cross-regional trials.
"It is not aimed at any specific target and has nothing to do with the current situation," Cheng said without elaborating. The sail-by comes as Taiwan gears up for presidential elections in January.
Taipei's foreign minister Joseph Wu tweeted on Sunday that China "intends to intervene in #Taiwan's elections", adding: "Voters won't be intimidated!"
Taiwan's defence ministry said it had dispatched ships and planes to track and closely monitor the carrier's movements, and that US and Japanese vessels trailed it in the strait.