China Navy confirms that drills were held by its carrier in the South China Sea
Photo credit: Online
China confirms its aircraft carrier conducted drills – for the first time – in the South China Sea with a formation of other warships and fighter jets. The move has certainly raised concerns among its neighbors.
Several J-15 fighter jets took off and landed from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Liaoning on Monday, said the The Defence Ministry. The Liaoning, China’s first and only aircraft carrier, sailed into the South China Sea last week.
The confirmation late Monday came days after Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said the carrier and five other warships had passed south of Taiwan. The self-ruled island deployed fighter jets to monitor the fleet.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has refused to endorse Beijing’s concept that Taiwan is a part of China. Beijing claims the self-governing island as its own territory and says failing to endorse the one-China principle would destabilise relations.
Purchased as an incomplete hull from Ukraine more than a decade ago, the Liaoning was commissioned in 2013 and in November was declared ready to engage in combat by the ship’s political commissar.
China hasn’t described specifically how it intends to use the Liaoning, but it is seen as helping reinforce China’s increasingly assertive claims in the South China Sea in the face of challenges from the US Navy and others.
Tensions have mounted in the South China Sea, where the US and China accuse each other of engaging in a dangerous military buildup. China claims nearly all of the sea and is pitted against smaller neighbours in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons.
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