Chinese navy
China's People's Liberation Army military vessels station at a naval base, with the financial Central district seen at background, during an open day celebrating the 19th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to Chinese sovereignty from British rule, in Hong Kong, July 1, 2016. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Chinese military commissioned an intelligence-gathering ship Tuesday at a ceremony in Qingdao, in eastern Shandong province, according to reports Wednesday. The vessel is the fourth of the Dongdiao class (Type 815) to be commissioned in the last two years.

The 6,000-ton vessel, named Kaiyangxing, was commissioned into the North Sea Fleet of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and was built at the Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard in Shanghai, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly reported Wednesday.

Kaiyangxing has a unique flat-topped cylindrical spherical dome above the bridge. The dome is reported to guard dish antennas that gather and intercept radio signals.

At present, six Dongdiao ships are in service with PLAN with the first commissioned in 1999. These ships are classified as Type 815A and subsequent vessels have undergone changes pertaining to their mass and structure. The vessels are distributed among the North, East and South Sea PLAN fleets.

Separately, China’s only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, entered the Taiwan Strait prompting Taiwan to scramble jets and navy ships, the Taiwanese defense ministry said Wednesday. The Liaoning was returning from drills in the disputed South China Sea region.

Beijing said it was "very normal" for the Liaoning to sail through an international waterway as part of its drills.

"Every year, in this season, China's navy has a few exercises in the near seas and other maritime regions. These exercises are all for training," Liu Zhenmin, vice minister of China’s foreign affairs, reportedly said.

However, Taiwan scrambled jets and navy ships to "surveil and control" the passage of the Chinese ships through the Taiwan Strait, the island country’s defense ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi said. Taiwanese military aircraft and ships were deployed to supervise Liaoning and the warship fleet it led, he added.