TAIPEI – The U.S. Navy deployed an Aegis destroyer to monitor the passage of China’s first aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait last week, local media reported on Tuesday.
The China Times reported that it was rare for U.S. naval vessels to enter the Taiwan Strait, a 160-km-wide body of water separating Taiwan and mainland China, and that this move carries a high degree of military and political significance.
The Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyer and Taiwan warships monitored the passage from the Taiwan side of the strait, it said.
In addition to the destroyer, the report said, the U.S. Navy also deployed a nuclear-powered submarine to waters near Taiwan to gather intelligence. But it did not enter the strait, which is generally considered to be too shallow for nuclear submarine operations.
The Liaoning, which made a five-day port call to Hong Kong to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule at the beginning of this month, entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone on its way to Hong Kong and back to its base in northern China, according to Taiwan’s military.
It was the third time the Liaoning, which went into service in September 2012, sailed along the median of the Taiwan Strait, an imaginary line drawn through the strait by the United States in the 1950s to delineate areas controlled by Taipei and Beijing.
The previous times were in November 2013 and in January this year.