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China has sent its sole operational aircraft carrier the Liaoning through the narrow Taiwan Strait that separates China from the self-ruled island,
Taiwan's defence minister said on Wednesday, according to local media. The move comes on the heels of a warning from Chinese President Xi Jinping that Taiwan would face the "punishment of history" for any attempt at separatism. China claims Taiwan as its sacred territory and considers it a wayward province.
Speaking at Taiwan's parliament, Defence Minister Yen Teh-fa said the Liaoning entered the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday, according to Taiwan's Central News Agency. The ministry is keeping a close watch on its progress, the report cited Yen as saying.
China's Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In January, the Liaoning sailed twice through the Taiwan Strait, in what China said was part of routine drills.
Taiwan says China has ramped up military exercises around the island in the past year or so. The island is one of China's most sensitive issues and a potential military flashpoint. China's hostility towards Taiwan has risen
since the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen, a member of the island's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party. China suspects Tsai wants to push for formal independence, which would cross a red line for Communist Party leaders in Beijing,
though Tsai has said she wants to maintain the status quo and is committed to ensuring peace.
NEWS DETAILS China sends carrier through Taiwan Strait Section China has sent its sole operational aircraft carrier the Liaoning through the na