The Taiwan Strait passage of the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong just before the video call between Xi Jinping and Joe Biden was just a coincidence, China Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on Friday (March 18).
Just a few hours ahead of the scheduled 9 p.m. Xi-Biden meeting, the Shandong passed through the Taiwan Strait, in what Zhao called a â€œroutine trainingâ€ mission, CNA reported. The aircraft carrier, which did not have any aircraft on deck, was shadowed by the Arleigh Burke guided missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson for at least part of its transit, according to Reuters.
When asked about the timing of the maneuver, Zhao said, â€œWe should not associate this matter with the communication between the Chinese and US leaders.â€
In addition to discussing the war in Ukraine, the two leaders agreed on the importance of maintaining open lines of communication. President Biden reiterated that the US has not changed its policy on Taiwan and stressed that Washington opposes any unilateral changes to the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, according to a White House press release.