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Montevideo, November 15th 2018 - 12:38 UTC

Tension mounts as strong Chinese fleet of aircraft carrier and navy vessels spotted south of Taiwan

Tuesday, December 27th 2016 - 07:53 UTC
Full article 5 comments
The Soviet-built Liaoning is China's only aircraft carrier, but the Asian giant is said to be building a second one. The Soviet-built Liaoning is China's only aircraft carrier, but the Asian giant is said to be building a second one.

What China's Defense Ministry deemed as “routine exercises,” was cause for grave concern among Taiwanese authorities as a strong Chinese fleet led by the Soviet-built Liaoning aircraft carrier escorted by five other warships entered the top half of the South China Sea on Monday passing southeast of the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.

 The move comes amid renewed tension over Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own, ineligible for state-to-state relations, following U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's telephone call with the island's president that upset Beijing.

Senior Taiwan opposition Nationalist lawmaker Johnny Chiang said the Liaoning exercise was China's signal to the United States that it has broken through the “first island chain”, an area that includes Japan's Ryukyu Islands and Taiwan.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said people should not read too much into what the carrier was up to, as its movements were within the law. “Our Liaoning should enjoy in accordance with the law freedom of navigation and overflight as set by international law, and we hope all sides can respect this right of China's,” she told a daily news briefing.

Influential state-run Chinese tabloid the Global Times said the exercise showed how the carrier was improving its combat capabilities and that it should now sail even further afield. China has been angered recently by U.S. naval patrols near islands that China claims in the South China Sea. This month, a Chinese navy ship seized a U.S. underwater drone in the South China Sea. China later returned it.

Japan's top government spokesman said on Monday the voyage showed China's expanding military capability and Japan was closely monitoring it.

The Liaoning is so far China's only aircraft carrier, but the Asian giant has been reported to be building a second one but its launch date is unclear, since the aircraft carrier program is a state secret. Beijing could build multiple aircraft carriers over the next 15 years, the Pentagon said in a report last year.

China claims most of the South China Sea through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Neighbors Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

Categories: Politics, International.

Top Comments

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  • ChrisR

    This so called aircraft carrier is nothing other than a development exercise for China to learn what aircraft carriers are and how to operate them 'in the field' (of battle).

    The whole of the Chinese fleet could probably be sunk by the existing American sub-fleet.

    Reacting in this manner if just fuelling China's view of how 'strong it is': it isn't as far as sea operations are concerned.

    That is not to say that this won't change in the next few years but other nations fleets will also have the same number of years to advance their goalposts.

    Dec 27th, 2016 - 07:48 pm 0
  • DemonTree

    @ ChrisR
    “That is not to say that this won't change in the next few years but other nations fleets will also have the same number of years to advance their goalposts.”

    True, but isn't Trump planning to cut down on US military spending and defence commitments?

    I hope the President of Taiwan knows what she is doing.

    Dec 27th, 2016 - 08:29 pm 0
  • Captain Poppy

    Trump can say what he whats, but in the end, Congress has the final say. There are still military hawks in both parties and both chambers.......I do not see that happening. Besides, most of our 3 letter divisions covert budgets are buried deep in that DoD budget.....like a nested box.

    It took the United States and Britain along with a few others over 80 years and several wars including a major world war to learn by trial and error the tactics and strategies employed in carrier warfare. They have more than a few years to go. Stealing technologies that other countries have spend blood, sweat and tears on and unrolling them in a matter of years versus decades does not make one adept nor even functional when challenged. I would never take them for granted, but I would not view them like the Russians, because, if the Russians can get a carrier somewhere without breaking down, they can be dangerous knowing that the Russian carriers are equipped with 19 or 20 jets.

    Dec 27th, 2016 - 08:52 pm 0
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