Grow­ing ca­pa­bil­ity to ex­tend range of de­fense

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - A BAT­TLE GROUP OF CHI­NESE WAR­SHIPS

led by the CNS Liaon­ing, China’s only air­craft car­rier, is head­ing for the West­ern Pa­cific to con­duct an open-sea ex­er­cise be­yond the so-called first is­land chain, which con­sists of the Ryukyu Is­lands cur­rently un­der Ja­panese ad­min­is­tra­tion, China’s Tai­wan, and the north­ern Philip­pines. Bei­jing News com­mented on Tues­day:

In the 1950s, the United States and its al­lies in­stalled ad­vanced weapons at bases along the chain of is­lands, in a bid to main­tain a strong military pres­ence and con­tain China and other coun­tries gov­erned by com­mu­nist par­ties.

To­day’s sit­u­a­tions are dif­fer­ent. Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, the Liaon­ing group has about 13 J-15 car­rier­borne fighter jets for the ex­er­cises out­side the first is­land chain. Al­beit part of a rou­tine train­ing mis­sion, the bat­tle group’s pres­ence in the West­ern Pa­cific sig­nals China’s grow­ing ca­pa­bil­ity to travel fur­ther into the ocean.

In mid-De­cem­ber, the coun­try’s first air­craft car­rier car­ried out its first live-fire ex­er­cise in the Bo­hai Sea, which in­volved drills with de­stroy­ers and frigates in sim­u­la­tions such as re­con­nais­sance, air­craft in­ter­cep­tion, sea strikes, and mis­sile de­fense. It also com­pleted “full-el­e­ment” train­ing in the East China Sea on Satur­day be­fore set­ting off for the West­ern Pa­cific.

With more ma­jor war­ships un­der con­struc­tion, an in­creas­ing num­ber of ef­fec­tive long-range drills are ex­pected to be car­ried out by the Chi­nese navy, adding fresh im­pe­tus to the coun­try’s ca­pa­bil­ity to bet­ter de­fend its water ter­ri­to­ries.

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