China Sends Aircraft Carrier Into Taiwan Strait

HONG KONG — China sent its sole aircraft carrier into the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday morning, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said, a provocative move that signals China’s growing naval strength and comes after Taiwan’s president spoke last month to President-elect Donald J. Trump, raising tensions between Beijing and Taipei.

In a statement, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said the aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, entered the island’s air-defense identification zone at 7 a.m. on Wednesday, sailing north in the center of the strait, which separates Taiwan from the mainland.

Taiwan, considered by Beijing to be a Chinese province, has been ruled separately since 1949, when the defeated forces of the Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek fled to the island following their defeat on the mainland by the Communists.

The Liaoning, commissioned in 2012 and built from a Soviet hull, is China’s first aircraft carrier. In past decades, the United States has shown its resolve to defend Taiwan by sailing carriers through the strait, though the practice is rare. In 1995, the aircraft carrier Nimitz transited the Taiwan Strait amid heightened tensions resulting from mainland missile tests in the waters.

China’s move comes just a week before the Jan. 20 inauguration of Mr. Trump as president, posing a delicate test for the incoming administration.

Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing, said in a news conference on Wednesday that the Taiwan-China relationship in the coming year would face “increasing uncertainty, looming risks and challenges.”

Mr. Ma said the Taiwan government and “independence forces” in Taiwan had “seriously threatened the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait” by denying the One China consensus, accusing them of engaging in separatist activities, and said that China would “resolutely safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”