The Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning and its companions carried out maneuvers around Taiwan, the Chinese military said in a statement on Monday.
“It was a routine training exercise organized according to the annual work plan to test the troops’ training effectiveness and strengthen their ability to protect national sovereignty, security and development interests,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, at least 10 People’s Liberation Army fighter jets, including four J-16 and four J-10 fighter jets, a Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft and a KJ-500 early warning aircraft, entered Taiwan’s self-declared air defense identification zone. (ADIZ), according to Taiwan̵
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration defines an ADIZ as “a designated area of airspace over land or water within which a country requires immediate and positive identification, location, and air traffic control of aircraft for the sake of its national security.”
Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of nearly 24 million people located off the southeast coast of mainland China, although the two sides have been ruled separately for more than seven decades.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has promised that Beijing will never allow the island to become formally independent and has refused to rule out the use of force if necessary to take the island back.
Tensions over Taiwan have intensified in recent months as Taipei has received US military support in the form of new military hardware, an agreement between the US and Taiwanese coastguards and strong statements of support from the administration of US President Joe Biden.
“We are committed to deepening ties with Taiwan,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said last week.
“China is using coercion and aggression to systematically undermine autonomy in Hong Kong, undermine democracy in Taiwan, abuse human rights in Xinjiang and Tibet, and assert maritime claims in the South China Sea that violate international law,” Blinken said.
“We will push back if necessary when China uses coercion or aggression to get its way.”
A ‘warning’ from Beijing
China’s maneuvers on Monday demonstrated its military superiority over Taiwan, Shi Hong, chief editor of Chinese magazine Shipborne Weapons, said in a Global Times report.
“The exercise showed that the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) is able to surround the island of Taiwan, isolate its troops and leave them nowhere to run and no chance of winning if circumstances arise,” Shi said.
The exercises also sent a message to both the United States and Japan, Shi added. Since any U.S. and Japanese military intervention would likely come from the East, China, by exercising its aviation group there, demonstrated that it could cut off that aid, Shi said.
Western analysts said China did not demonstrate any new capabilities in Monday’s exercises.
In fact, a Chinese Pacific carrier could play to one of the strengths of the U.S. Navy – its nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN), said Thomas Shugart, a senior fellow at the Center for a New U.S. Security and former U.S. Navy captain.
“A Chinese carrier operating east of Taiwan is not very valuable to be used like that, as it could be quite vulnerable operating so far out – on SSN-infected deep water and beyond China’s integrated air defense / SAM umbrella, Said Shugart.
But the Chinese military issued a political statement, analysts said.
“It is intended as a warning to Taiwanese and others whom Beijing considered to undermine its interests, not least the Americans,” said Collin Koh, a fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
Koh points out that a PLA Navy carrier group has operated east of Taiwan at least twice before.
Such Chinese activity is expected to continue. The PLA said in its statement that airline operations such as the one staged on Monday would take place on a regular basis.
American carrier operates in South China Sea
While the Chinese airline conducted drills off Taiwan, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier group conducted its own operations in the South China Sea.
“It is great to be back in the South China Sea to reassure our allies and partners that we remain committed to the freedom of the oceans,” Bagadm said. Doug Verissimo, head of Carrier Strike Group Nine, in a statement.
“While in the South China Sea, the strike group will conduct regular and rotating wing operations, maritime strike exercises, anti-submarine operations, coordinated tactical training and more,” the 7th Fleet said in a statement.
Beijing claims almost the entire 1.3 million square kilometers of the South China Sea as its sovereign territory and has in recent years built military fortifications on several islands.
It says the presence of foreign military forces such as the U.S. aircraft carrier group’s strike group is promoting tensions in the region.