While much of America was preparing to listen to Obama speak one final time, the Chinese had far less lofty ambitions, and on Wednesday morning Beijing sent a group of Chinese warships led by China’s sole aircraft carrier north through the Taiwan Strait, resulting in Taiwan scrambling jets and navy ships in the latest sign of heightened tensions between China and the self-ruled Taiwan.
According to Reuters, The Soviet-built Liaoning aircraft carrier, returning from exercises in the South China Sea, was not trespassing in Taiwan’s territorial waters but entered its air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the southwest, Taiwan’s defense ministry said.
As a result Taiwan scrambled jets and navy ships to “surveil and control” the passage of the Chinese ships through the narrow body of water separating Taiwan and China. “We have full grasp of its movements,” Taiwan defense ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi said.
The defense ministry spokesman added that the Taiwanese military aircraft and ships have been deployed to follow the carrier group, which is sailing up the west side of the median line of the strait.
Previously, China has said the Liaoning aircraft carrier was on drills to test weapons and equipment in the disputed South China Sea and its movements comply with international law.
As Reuters adds, the latest Chinese naval exercises have unnerved Beijing’s neighbors, especially Taiwan which Beijing claims as its own, given long-running territorial disputes in the South China Sea. China claims most of the energy-rich waters of the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Neighbors Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.
While China traditionally distrusts Taiwan, and especially the new President Tsai Ing-wen, it has has stepped up pressure on her following a protocol-breaking, congratulatory telephone call between her and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump last month.
This post originally appeared on Zero Hedge