BEIJING — China’s first aircraft carrier and five other warships passed by Taiwan and sailed into the contested South China Sea on Monday, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said.
The ships, led by the Liaoning, sailed past the Pratas Islands, also known as the Dongsha Islands, a Taiwan-controlled atoll in the northern part of the South China Sea, according to the ministry.
China’s Defence Ministry said Saturday that the Liaoning had set off for a routine open-sea exercise in the Western Pacific as part of its annual training.
But its entering into the politically sensitive South China Sea follows rising tensions between Beijing and Taipei over the status of the self-ruled island.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has refused to endorse Beijing’s concept that Taiwan is a part of China. Beijing claims the self-governing island as its own territory and says failing to endorse the one-China principle would destabilize relations.
The Taiwanese ministry said the Liaoning and warships had on Sunday sailed 90 nautical miles south of Taiwan in the Bashi Channel, a waterway between Taiwan and the Philippines.