China’s new aircraft carrier transits Taiwan Strait

China’s new aircraft carrier Shandong sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Thursday, two weeks ahead of Taiwan’s presidential election.

Shandong is China’s second aircraft carrier and the first one built in China. The Taiwan Strait passage is the first for Shandong since it was commissioned earlier this month. Reuters first reported Shandong’s passage.

Before its commissioning, Shandong had previously steamed through the narrow body of water separating Taiwan from mainland China as it prepared to formally join the fleet, according to several media accounts, including a report in the Taiwan News.

Shandong launched in 2017, according to China’s Ministry of National Defense.

Shandong’s route through the Taiwan Strat comes as Taiwan gears up for a presidential election on Jan. 11th. President Tsai Ing-wen is vying for re-election and her ruling Democratic Progressive Party is pro-independence.