The Chinese Navy recently organized the Liaoning aircraft carrier group in a cross-regional mobilization, which saw the flotilla led by the aircraft carrier crossing through the Miyako Strait, Bashi Channel and entering the South China Sea for exercises, the PLA Navy announced on Monday.
This is a routine arrangement in accordance with the annual plan and is in line with international law and conventional practice, PLA Navy spokesperson Gao Xiucheng said on Monday.
The Chinese Navy will continue to regularly organize similar training and exercises according to its plan to boost the systematic combat capability of its aircraft carrier groups, Gao said.
Gao’s statement came after the Japanese Defense Ministry and media on the island of Taiwan said on Saturday that a Chinese flotilla, consisting of the Liaoning aircraft carrier, two Type 052D guided missile destroyers, two Type 054A guided missile frigates and one Type 901 auxiliary supply ship, was spotted in the Miyako Strait on Friday evening.
The Japanese Defense Ministry said the Liaoning carrier group headed toward the Pacific Ocean.
The operation by the Liaoning aircraft carrier group also caused speculations on the island of Taiwan, as some media on the island said the absence of US aircraft carriers due to the COVID-19 may give the Chinese mainland a good chance to reunify Taiwan by force.
A Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Monday that the Chinese Navy’s statement showed the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has no intention to take advantage of the current COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit the military capabilities of some other countries, because the voyage is a scheduled one, likely planned before the pandemic.
It also showed that the COVID-19 has had no impact on the Chinese aircraft carrier, so it can carry out the planned exercise, the expert said.
Another military expert told the Global Times on Monday under condition of anonymity that it is normal that fear and speculation occurs in Taiwan, and to Taiwan secessionists the training of the Liaoning is also a warning.