A naval formation consisting of aircraft carrier Liaoning has conducted take-off and landing drills in the South China Sea on January 1, 2017. The formation, which is on a “cross-sea area” training exercise, involved J-15 fighter jets, as well as several ship-borne helicopters. Photo: Navy.81.cn
China’s aircraft carriers will more frequently cross through sea lanes, including the Miyako Strait, for deployment in the west Pacific and Indian oceans which will become standard practice, according to an article published by the social media account run by a Party newspaper.
The main missions of Chinese aircraft carriers will be sea routes protection, conducting naval diplomacy, serving as a regional deterrent and humanitarian relief as well as disaster rescue, according to the Tuesday article by Xiakedao, the official WeChat account operated by the overseas edition of People’s Daily.
With more and more Chinese working overseas and more and more joint projects underway with other countries, aircraft carriers away from home will be powerful guardians to protect China’s overseas interests from regional instabilities, terrorists, and disasters, a military expert who asked not to be named told the Global Times on Wednesday.
As to the “Chinese aircraft carrier threat theory” hyped by some neighboring countries, Xiakedao said that it runs contrary to military common sense. “Solving marine disputes with neighbors is definitely not the main mission of China’s aircraft carriers.
“Aircraft carriers are high sea combat platforms, and it is impossible to have them stay near China all day,” Xiakedao wrote.
The development of aircraft carriers will be the foundation for China to be a major country and shoulder international responsibilities, Xiakedao said.
The article came after Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported that a Chinese naval fleet led by the Liaoning aircraft carrier crossed through the Miyako Strait and entered the Pacific Ocean from the East China Sea on Tuesday.
This marks the second time a Chinese aircraft carrier had passed the waters since December 2016, crossing the first island chain, Chinese news website thepaper.cn reported, noting that the Liaoning had just returned from its months-long regular maintenance and modification in April.
Japan reportedly dispatched surveillance vessels, but Xiakedao said that Japan’s overreaction was unnecessary as China’s aircraft carriers will routinely pass the Miyako Strait.
Newspaper headline: China’s carriers to regularly pass through Miyako Strait