The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy has confirmed that the Liaoning aircraft carrier passed through the Taiwan Straits on Thursday before dawn.
This is the first official release of information about the Liaoning's activities from the Chinese mainland since Taiwan's media reported on its movements Tuesday.
Navy spokesperson Liang Yang said on Thursday morning that "A naval formation consisting of the aircraft carrier Liaoning on Thursday passed through the Taiwan Straits en route to the South China Sea for drills and tests."
Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, told the Global Times on Thursday that the Liaoning battle group's movement in the area showed that the aircraft carrier is combat ready, which is good news for the Chinese people, but those who want to separate China's territory and support Taiwan independence will surely be afraid and panic.
An anonymous official told the Taiwan-based news website udn.com on Tuesday that Taiwan sent a Successful-class frigate from its 146 fleet to the eastern side of the straits to follow the Liaoning.
An E-2C early warning plane was also sent to the area. The Liaoning' s movements would have been transmitted to the Hengshan Military Command Center in Taipei, and Taiwan's "defense minister" Feng Shih-kuan headed to the Hengshan Military Command Center at that time, udn.com reported.