BEIJING – China’s Defense Ministry said that its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning has set off for the Western Pacific for an open-sea training exercise. A move likely to start a direct confrontation with the Pacific Ocean’s dominant power, the naval forces of the United States.
“A Chinese navy formation, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning, headed towards the West Pacific on Saturday [December 24] for scheduled blue-water training,” Xinhua said Saturday, citing China’s navy spokesperson Liang Yang.
State media also said that it is the first time that the Liaoning, which was commissioned by the Chinese navy in 2012, has headed to “distant sea waters” by doing an annual training plan without elaborating on the exact location.
The Western Pacific region stretches from China to New Zealand and encompasses countries in the Pacific ocean and parts of Asia.
But for other countries and the United States, the Chinese navy drills are seen as a show of strength by Beijing at a time of rising tensions with the United States over the sensitive issue of Taiwan, having a protocol-breaking telephone conversation between Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and US President-elect Donald Trump.
China views Taiwan illegally having a self-governing government, a renegade province and an island that Beijing claims as its territory. – JCE.