CHINA’S AGING LIAONING AIRCRAFT CARRIER LEADS EXERCISE NEAR TAIWAN
A Chinese carrier group is exercising near Taiwan and such drills will become regular, China’s navy said late on Monday in a further escalation of tensions near the island that Beijing claims as its sovereign territory, Andrew Galbraith and Ben Blanchard reported for Reuters.
Taiwan has complained of an increase in Chinese military activity near it in recent months, as China steps up efforts to assert its sovereignty over the democratically run island. China’s navy said the carrier group, led by the Liaoning, a refurbished Soviet-era aircraft carrier with diesel engines, the country’s first aircraft carrier put into active service, was carrying out “routine” drills in the waters near Taiwan.
The aim is to “enhance its capability to safeguard national sovereignty, safety and development interests”, it said. “Similar exercises will be conducted on a regular basis in the future,” the navy added, without elaborating.
China’s statement follows Taiwan’s Defense Ministry having reported a new incursion by China’s air force into the island’s air defense identification zone on Monday.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it had a “full grasp” of the situation in the air and at sea surrounding Taiwan and that it was “appropriately handling” the matter. China’s Navy is considered a “green water navy” that lacks bases overseas and can’t stay afloat in the blue oceans over prolonged periods.
Japan’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday that the Liaoning, accompanied by five escort ships, had transited the Miyako Strait on their way to the Pacific. China’s widely-read Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, noted the Nanchang, the first of a powerful new fleet of untested Type 055 destroyers that entered service last year, was part of the carrier group.