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September 25, 2017

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Cross-strait military vessels in South China Sea meet: report

A Taiwanese naval vessel with local students on board had a brief standoff with a Chinese military vessel in the South China Sea last week, a local newspaper reported yesterday.

The Chinese-language United Evening News said the R.O.C. Lafayette-class frigate Chen De (承德艦) met the Chinese vessel during its trip back to Taiwan proper following a tour to the Taiwan-controlled Taiping Island in the South China Sea last week.

 The Chinese ship was later identified as the Type 054A-class guided-missile frigate Liuzhou (柳州艦), the report said.

Naval personnel on the Taiwanese frigate saw the Chinese ship in visual range, and monitored the vessel closing in.

 The R.O.C. ship immediately raised an alert as well as its combat readiness. It also reported the encounter back to the Ministry of National Defense (MND) in Taipei.

The Chinese military vessel did not initiate any hostile moves following the brief encounter at sea. The Chen De later returned to Zuoying naval harbor in southern Kaohsiung City on July 14, the newspaper said.

The incident was made public after several naval personnel aboard the vessel revealed the encounter on social media, the report said.

A military source told the newspaper that it is not uncommon for two naval ships of different countries to have similar encounters at sea.

 The Chinese vessel did not make any hostile moves during the incident, so the R.O.C. vessel only recorded the encounter in its log and reported the case to the MND, the source said.

The R.O.C. ship was taking a total of 18 university students and faculty to Taiping Island as part of a regular MND-organized summer camp in the South China Sea.

The ship departed for Taiping on July 5 and took four days to arrive at Taiping, which is the largest island in the Spratlys archipelago.

The camp is meant to showcase the R.O.C.'s sovereignty over the island and to teach local students the importance of all-out defense, the MND said.

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