Chinese Liaoning Aircraft Carrier Conducted Naval Drills Near Taiwan, Sailed Between Disputed Diaoyu Islands

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Chinese Liaoning Aircraft Carrier Conducted Naval Drills Near Taiwan, Sailed Between Disputed Diaoyu Islands

Illustrative image

The Liaoning aircraft carrier task group of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) reportedly crossed the Miyako Strait and passed near the disputed Diaoyu Islands on April 28th.

Chinese Liaoning Aircraft Carrier Conducted Naval Drills Near Taiwan, Sailed Between Disputed Diaoyu Islands

The picture shows the aircraft carrier Liaoning (Hull 16) and other vessels and fighter jets in the maritime parade conducted by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in the South China Sea on the morning of April 12, 2018. Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), reviewed the parade. (eng.chinamil.com.cn/Photo by Zhang Lei)

Chinese Liaoning Aircraft Carrier Conducted Naval Drills Near Taiwan, Sailed Between Disputed Diaoyu Islands

Map showing the location of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. Source: The Asia-Pacific Journal

According to Japan’s Ministry of Defense Joint Staff, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force spotted a PLAN flotilla passing through waters between Japanese Okinawa Island and Miyako Island and sailed north toward the East China Sea on April 27th. A U.S. navy destroyer has been following the Chinese Liaoning aircraft carrier since Sunday.

The flotilla consisted of six warships, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning, the Type 055 large destroyer Nanchang, the Type 052D destroyers Chengdu and Taiyuan, the Type 054A frigate Huanggang and the Type 901 comprehensive supply ship Hulunhu. A Z-18 early warning helicopter from the Liaoning approached the Chiwei Islet of the Diaoyu Islands, according to the Japanese statement.

The flotilla went south from the same region on April 3rd.

“Chinese military observers said it was predictable that the task group would return from its exercises near the island of Taiwan and in the South China Sea via the Miyako Strait, but it is rare to see that the carrier group sent aircraft near the Diaoyu Islands.” – Global Times reported, citing Chinese specialists.

On April 5, the PLAN announced that the Liaoning aircraft carrier task group was conducting exercises near the island of Taiwan at that time as part of annually scheduled regular training. According to the later reports, the carrier group went further south into the South China Sea for additional exercises.

The Liaoning aircraft carrier group’s recent movements serve as a warning and deterrent to Japan.

Diaoyu archipelago in the East China Sea that is de facto under Japanese control is a subject of a territorial dispute between Japan, the Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China. Recently, the US reaffirmed its commitment to the defense of Japan under their security treaty, which covers the Diaoyu Islands. Meanwhile, Chinese Coast Guard vessels’ are carrying out regular patrol activities in these waters.

Chinese Liaoning Aircraft Carrier Conducted Naval Drills Near Taiwan, Sailed Between Disputed Diaoyu Islands

Map of EEZs and International waters in the South China Sea.

The British embassy in Tokyo has recently announced that a flotilla of Royal Navy of the United Kingdom leaded by HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier would pass through Asian waters on port visits to Japan and South Korea. The decision was made after Australia had warned of threats of conflict in the region. The flotilla should be joined by US vessels and a frigate from the Netherlands in order to carry out joint exercises with Japan, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France, the UAE, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Israel, India, Oman and South Korea.

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