China’s sole aircraft carrier has arrived at a naval base in China’s Hainan Province, a senior military officer said yesterday, after drills that took it around Taiwan.
Taiwan on Tuesday said that “the threat of our enemies is growing day by day,” as Chinese warships led by the carrier sailed toward Hainan through the disputed South China Sea.
The Chinese drill came amid renewed tension over Taiwan, which China says is ineligible for state-to-state relations, following US president-elect Donald Trump’s telephone call with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) that upset Beijing.
China is deeply suspicious of Tsai, suspecting she wants to push for formal independence, a red line for Beijing which has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.
Tsai said she wants to maintain peace with China.
China has given few details of what the Soviet-built Liaoning is up to, save that it is on a routine exercise and complying with international law.
Taiwan has said the aircraft carrier skirted waters outside its air defense identification zone to the east and south and then headed across the top of the South China Sea to Hainan, home to a large Chinese naval base.
“The Liaoning aircraft carrier has reached the Hainan military base. We will continue to monitor its developments,” a senior military official said on condition of anonymity.
China had been testing the carrier’s systems and coordination with other military equipment, the officer said, and its arrival in Hainan did not mean its mission was over.
Chinese state media said the carrier’s likely home base was the northeastern port city of Qingdao.
Speaking at a regular news briefing, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman An Fengshan (安峰山) said China would exert all its efforts to achieve “peaceful reunification.”
“At the same time, our position on maintaining the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is unswerving, and we will never permit Taiwan independence separatist forces to split Taiwan from China in any way or in any name,” he said.
China’s air force conducted long-range drills this month above the East and South China seas that rattled Taiwan and Japan. China said those exercises were also routine.
China claims most of the South China Sea. Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam also have claims.
The Liaoning has taken part in previous exercises, including in the South China Sea, but China is years away from perfecting carrier operations similar to those the US has practised for decades.
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