China will be conducting an open-sea training drill, involving its first aircraft carrier, in the Western Pacific, the Chinese military has announced.
“A Chinese navy formation, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning, headed toward the West Pacific on Saturday for scheduled blue-water training,” Xinhua on Saturday cited China’s navy spokesperson Liang Yang as saying.
In a statement later in the day, the Chinese navy said that the Liaoning, along with its accompanying fleet, would conduct “exercises far out at sea,” without elaborating on the location or the duration of the drill.
Xinhua said that the carrier had been involved in exercises in the Yellow Sea in recent days, with J-15 fighter jets taking off from it and conducting air refueling and combat drills.
Japan’s Defense Ministry also confirmed that eight Chinese vessels, including the Liaoning carrier and three destroyers, had been spotted by one of its ships in the central part of the East China Sea on Saturday afternoon.
The 60,000-ton Liaoning was handed over to the Chinese navy on September 23, 2012. The Soviet-built aircraft carrier can sail at a top speed of 37 kilometers per hour and can carry 36 aircraft. China is currently manufacturing its second aircraft carrier.
China is involved in maritime disputes in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.
China has, in response, accused Washington of meddling in regional issues and deliberately escalating the situation in the region.
Washington has been meddling in the disputes by sailing its own ships in the contested waters.