China sailed its Shandong aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, after denouncing a US warship just a day earlier for travelling through the strategic waterway and “casting flirtatious glances” at Taiwanese independence supporters. Liu Wensheng, spokesman for the Chinese navy, said in a statement on Monday morning that the Shandong, China’s second aircraft carrier, had “smoothly sailed through the Taiwan Strait” on its way to conduct drills in the South China Sea . “Over the past year since the Shandong was entered into service, it has completed carrier-based take-off and landing exercises, weapons practice, combat system adjustments and other tasks, and the combat ability of its formation system has continued to improve through training,” he said. “This time, we organised the Shandong carrier to carry out cross-regional manoeuvre training as part of our normal arrangements in our annual plan. We will continue to organise future trainings based on our training needs.” US actions could raise risk of Taiwan war, says Chinese military researcher Taiwan’s defence ministry also confirmed the carrier’s passage through the strait – which separates mainland China from Taiwan – in a statement late on Sunday, noting that the Shandong had first set sail southward from the port of Dalian in Liaoning province last Thursday. The ministry said it had deployed six ships and eight types of aircraft to monitor the situation. The presence of China’s carrier in the waters near Taiwan – a self-ruled island that Beijing claims as its own territory – comes on the heels of the US sailing its guided missile destroyer USS Mustin for a “routine Taiwan Strait transit” on Saturday. China military: how Beijing is pushing forward its plan for a powerful, modern armed forces The US Navy’s Seventh Fleet said the passage showed “US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific”. United States ships have so far sailed through the strait 12 times this year, despite protests from Beijing. Zhang Chunhui, spokesman for the Chinese military’s Eastern Theatre Command, said on Saturday it had organised naval and air forces to track and monitor the USS Mustin through its transit, describing it as “selfish strategy” to “use Taiwan as a chess piece”. “In the recent period, US ships have continuously sailed through the Taiwan Strait, hyping up and dramatising the situation to intentionally elevate the intensity of the Taiwan issue out of fear that it has calmed, casting flirtatious glances at the Taiwan independence forces and seriously damaging the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait region,” he said. Beijing has long said the Taiwan issue was the most important in China-US relations, and one in which it would not compromise. While Taiwan is self-governed, Beijing has not renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control. The US does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but has extended its support through regular arms sales and high-level exchanges – including US Health Secretary Alex Azar’s visit to the island in August – during the Trump administration. US, China may ‘stumble’ into conflict in South China Sea Meanwhile, Beijing and Washington blamed each other for a failed maritime security meeting last week , which had been intended to improve military communication between the two sides as their strategic rivalry intensifies. The US Indo-Pacific Command said the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was a no-show for the virtual dialogue, while a PLA spokesman said the US had gone ahead with the meeting despite no agreement on the topics to be discussed. The Military Maritime Consultative Agreement meeting had been intended to improve maritime and aviation safety, assess rules of behaviour between the US and China and review a number of unsafe incidents that have occurred between the two militaries. Concerns have grown over the risk of military confrontation between the two powers, including from an accident or rapid escalation from flashpoints in Taiwan or in the South China Sea – particularly as there has been a sharp decline in communication between the two sides and frequent clashes on multiple fronts, including trade, technology and ideology.