Taiwan warned on Tuesday that “the threat of our enemies is growing day by day”, as Chinese warships led by the country’s sole aircraft carrier sailed towards the island province of Hainan through the South China Sea on a routine drill.
China has given few details of what the Soviet-built Liaoning aircraft carrier is up to, save that it is on a routine exercise. Taiwan has said the aircraft carrier skirted waters outside of its eastern air defence identification zone.
The carrier is expected to arrive at a Chinese military base on the southern Chinese island of Hainan late on Tuesday, Taiwan’s defence ministry said.
The Liaoning was laid down by Russia as a Admiral Kuznetsov-class carrier then sold–supposedly for use as a floating hotel and casino–to China. The carrier has been in commission in the Chinese navy since 2012. It was recently declared “combat ready.”
Its main combat aircraft are 24 Shenyang J-15 fighters operating from a ski-jump flight deck. The Liaoning is to serve as a training and development ship while the Chinese figure out how to build and operate carriers.