China sends aircraft carrier and 8 warships to seas near Japan | world news
Beijing: Eight Chinese warships, led by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy aircraft carrier Liaoning, passed between the island chain of Okinawa in southern Japan on Monday during a show of force that state media described as “the preparation for missions that include potential military conflict across the Taiwan Strait”. ”.
The warships sailed between the main island of Okinawa and Miyako Island, the Japanese Defense Ministry and Chinese state media said, adding that although there was no incursion into Japanese territorial waters, helicopters aboard the Liaoning aircraft carrier took off and landed.
In Chinese naval doctrine, these islands are part of the “first island chain” and passing these islands signifies a projection of power by the Chinese navy.
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, or Japanese Navy, dispatched the Izumo, a helicopter carrier, along with P-1 maritime patrol planes and P-3C anti-submarine planes to monitor the passage Chinese ships, the Japanese Defense Ministry said. said in the press release.
The US 7th Fleet, which is stationed in Japan, is also expected to monitor the passage of Chinese warships.
Comprised of at least eight warships, including destroyers, the carrier group is the largest to head to the distant seas, “marking a significant increase in combat capability in preparation for missions that include a potential military conflict across the Taiwan Strait,” the state-run Global Times said, citing experts.
China currently has two aircraft carriers, Liaoning and Shandong, and a third is expected to enter service this year as the PLA Navy expands rapidly.
According to the report, based on previous voyages, after passing through the Miyako Strait, Chinese warships are expected to sail further east into the Pacific Ocean, or they may transit through the Bashi Channel south to to the island of Taiwan and perform drills in the South China Sea.
The carrier was accompanied by guided missile destroyers, a guided missile frigate and the Type 901 Hulunhu full supply ship.
It was the first time a Chinese aircraft carrier was confirmed to have passed through the region since December last year, according to Japanese national broadcaster NHK.
The Chinese carrier group made a similar pass late last year when the warships crossed the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and entered the Western Pacific via the Miyako Strait, leading comprehensive exercises in various areas aimed at improving the carrier group training concept, a PLA statement announced in December.
China claims Taiwan as a rebel region and has never ruled out using force to reunite it with the mainland.
In recent months, the PLA has frequently deployed warships and flown fighter jets across the Taiwan Strait in real combat drills, seen as a show of force for self-governing democracy.
China already has the world’s largest navy and, according to a 2021 US Department of Defense report, Beijing plans to increase the size from 355 to 460 ships by 2030.
The ongoing passage of the Liaoning aircraft carrier and its “realistic combat training mission” is also a message to the US-led Quad comprising India, Australia and Japan, which Beijing says is a “clique” to suppress China in the Pacific maritime region.
Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar dismissed China’s opposition to the Quad in February, saying the group would do “positive things” and contribute to the prosperity and stability of the strategic Indo region. -Peaceful.
Criticizing the Quad repeatedly will not make the four-nation group any less credible, Jaishankar had said after meeting the group’s other foreign ministers – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Japan’s Yoshimasa Hayashi and Australia’s Marise. Payne.