Liaoning aircraft carrier escorted by five warships has encircled Taiwan, passing between the islands of Miyako, Okinawa and through the Bashi Channel, a waterway between Taiwan and the Philippines.
Taiwanese official said the aircraft carrier maintained a southwest direction towards Hainan, however, its mission in the Pacific was carried out in a peaceful manner. The carrier had not sailed close to Itu Abu, referring to Taiwan’s only holding in the Spratly Islands, and that Taipei continues to monitor its movements, the official added.
Over the weekend, China released photos and videos showing its first aircraft carrier during training at sea and asserted that the drills had strengthened the bonds between different vessels and honed its overall capability.
With Shenyang J-15 carrier-borne fighter jets and helicopters taking off and landing on the deck, it was the first time that Chinese pilots completed such action in complex situations.
The move comes amid renewed tension over self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own; following the US President Donald Trumps phone calls to Taiwan leader.
In early December 2016, China naval vessel seized the underwater drone operated around fifty (50) nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay, Philippines. A week after the incident and close consultations, China handover the drone to US Navy where the incident took place.
The drone incident and the latest naval exercise spark new concerns about China’s increased military presence and aggressive posture in the South China Sea where Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims to the area.