Chinese carrier enters South China Sea amid renewed tension


A general view shows navy soldiers standing on China's first aircraft carrier "Liaoning" as it is berthed in a port in Dalian, northeast China's Liaoning province, September 25, 2012.  REUTERS/Stringer

A general view shows navy soldiers standing on China’s first aircraft carrier “Liaoning” as it is berthed in a port in Dalian, northeast China’s Liaoning province, September 25, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

By J.R. Wu | TAIPEI Mon Dec 26, 2016 | 3:51pm EST

A group of Chinese warships led by the country’s sole aircraft carrier entered the top half of the South China Sea on Monday after passing south of Taiwan, the self-ruled island’s Defence Ministry said of what China has termed a routine exercise.

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.

The Soviet-built Liaoning aircraft carrier has taken part in previous exercises, including some in the South China Sea, but China is years away from perfecting carrier operations similar to those the United States has practised for decades.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said the carrier, accompanied by five vessels, passed southeast of the Pratas Islands, which are controlled by Taiwan, heading southwest.

The carrier group earlier passed 90 nautical miles south of Taiwan’s southernmost point via the Bashi Channel, between Taiwan and the Philippines.

“Staying vigilant and flexible has always been the normal method of maintaining airspace security,” said ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi, declining to say whether Taiwan fighter jets were scrambled or if submarines had been deployed.

Chen said the ministry was continuing to “monitor and grasp the situation.”

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.

The U.S. State Department on Monday said its position has not changed since July, when it said it was continuing to monitor China’s military modernization and that it expects nations conducting defence exercises to comply with the law. Representatives for the Pentagon declined to comment.

Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Trump, said the incoming team had no comment on China’s move. Trump takes office on Jan. 20 but has already has drawn headlines over a series of statements on China 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.

“The Chinese fleet will cruise to the Eastern Pacific sooner or later. When China’s aircraft carrier fleet appears in offshore areas of the U.S. one day, it will trigger intense thinking about maritime rules,” the newspaper said in an editorial.

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 said late on Sunday it had spotted six Chinese naval vessels including the Liaoning travelling through the passage between Miyako and Okinawa and into the Pacific.

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

China’s air force conducted long-range drills this month above the East and South China Seas that rattled Japan and Taiwan. China said those exercises were also routine.

Last December, the defence ministry confirmed China was building a second aircraft carrier but its launch date is unclear. The aircraft carrier programme 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. Neighbours Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

(Additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takanaka in Tokyo, Ben Blanchard in Beijing, Susan Heavey in Washington, and Melissa Fares in Palm Beach, Florida; Editing by Nick Macfie, Lisa Shumaker and Leslie Adler)

Source: Reuters “Chinese carrier enters South China Sea amid renewed tension”

Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

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5 Comments on “Chinese carrier enters South China Sea amid renewed tension”

  1. Steve says:

    Let’s start from JULY ONLY (I want to save the page), just to avoid your embarrassment;

    .. 28/7/16 US navy F/A 18C crashed in 29 Palms, California
    .. 2/8/16 US navy F/A 18C Hornet crashed in Air station fallon, Nevada
    .. 20/9/16 US airforce U2 crashed in Sutter county, California
    .. 22/9/16 US marine corps AV8B crashed in Okinawa, Japan
    .. 26/10/16 USMC F/A 18C crashed in 29 Palms, California
    .. 2/11/16 Two USMC F/A 18s collided in mid air off San Diego
    .. 7/12/16 USMC F/A18C crashed in the Pacific Ocean off Iwakuni, Japan
    .. 13/12/16 USMC MV22B Osprey crashed off Okinawa, Japan

    Still 5 more days to end of December, 2016. Are the US pilots making a mistake risking their lives flying those dangerously outdated F/A18s or lacking technical skill.?

    I would not call these air crashes an embarrassment, but rather as elite soldiers, they have a duty of care to serve their country. Obviously, U do not understand military service.

    As for the Russians, just as above mentioned, the pilots and sailors served Russia with dignity. They liberated Aleppo, Syria and freed the Syrians from the American genocide and IS. The US are supporters of IS. All U understand is embarrassment and being ignorant.

    As for the Chinese sailors and pilots, they too have a duty to perform in serving China, just like the Russians and Americans. All U understand is ignorance and embarrassment.

    Also, go check the list of US warships engine failure with seawater soaking into the compartment and mechanical break down. Checkout the Zumwalt, USS Milwaukee, Fort Forth, USS Freedom All broken down in 2016 across the Pacific to Singapore, Atlantic….Please don’t embarrass yourself with ignorance, get educated first before commenting.

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  2. Fre Okin says:

    Nothing to see. Move along Japan, US, Taiwan. China merely conducting FON like US, so what is the big deal?

    The action is probably underwater that is impossible to report. US and Japanese subs, LCS, UUV’s, SOSUS listening devices in place trying to learn more about the Chinese flotilla passing through Bashi Channel and Miyako Strait. Chinese Haiyan UUV’s probably doing counter surveillance as well as Chinese Yuan submarines. It would be great if Chinese Type 94 Jin subs join the flotilla and some break away towards CONUS ‘on patrol’.

    This exercise in the Western Pacific probably as significant as the Maneuver 5 navy exercise done from October 18 to November 1, 2013 breaking out into the Pacific for the first time.

    The First Island China don’t constrain China anymore and US, Japan, Taiwan should get used to it!

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  3. Mad Max says:

    The U.S. is a trouble maker. The government is out of touch with its peoples’ wishes. It will continue to interfere in other countries’s internal affairs and fan conflicts. The U.S. is an aggressive country forever threatening and and attemoting to bully other countries.

    Donald Trump? “Drain the swamp”? Doubt it. He’s the “swamp”. Maybe a bigger one. Don’t c expect any change from this Amerikan Empire firster.

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  4. Mike says:

    China please do not risk your sailors lives showing off and bringing the Liaoning out into the dangerous waters of the Western Pacific before it is ready. The Russians made the mistake of sailing their carrier to the waters off of Syria and had an embarrassing breakdown and several aircraft crashes on the deck. Japanese and American warships will be shadowing the Liaoning watching for any incident that proves embarrassing to the PLAN, Please be careful!

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