PLA's aircraft carrier takes part in drills

By ZHAO LEI (Chinadaily.com.cn) 08:19, April 11, 2023

Screen capture from CCTV shows the People's Liberation Army carrying out exercises around the Taiwan Island on Saturday, April 8, 2023.

The Eastern Theater Command of the People's Liberation Army concluded its three-day "Joint Sword" exercises around Taiwan Island on Monday, with PLA Navy's CNS Shandong aircraft carrier participating in the drills.

Senior Colonel Shi Yi, spokesman for the command, said the command has completed various tasks and the exercises have comprehensively examined the forces' capabilities to conduct joint operations.

The command will stand ready at all times to defeat any form of "Taiwan independence" separatism and foreign interference attempts, Shi said.

Observers have noted that the military exercises were a direct response to Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen's provocative "transit" trip to the United States and her intention of playing up the US card to pursue "Taiwan independence".

The Shandongcarrier battle group, which consists of at least one Type 055 guided-missile destroyer and several other types of destroyers and frigates, was shown in a video released by the command on Monday afternoon. Armed with missiles, J-15 fighter jets took off from the carrier to participate in the drills, the video showed.

CNS Shandong— China's second aircraft carrier and the first one to be wholly designed and built in the country — displaces at least 50,000 metric tons of water. Commissioned in December 2019 to the South Sea Fleet, it is currently the largest and most sophisticated vessel in any Asian navy.

Other PLA naval vessels involved in the exercises simulated port blockades and attacks on enemy ships. They maneuvered into "favorable positions" and then closed in on adversaries in a move of "deterrence".

In a separate video, a PLA Navy sailor is seen observing a Taiwan naval ship that was very close to his own.

Air units under the command sent dozens of fighter jets and bombers, which were loaded with real missiles, and early-warning and electronic warfare planes to conduct air blockades and mock missile assaults against key targets on the Taiwan Island.

On the ground, ballistic and cruise missile forces tracked enemy ships and then simulated several rounds of saturation bombardments.

Senior Captain Tang Li, a researcher at the PLA Naval Research Academy in Beijing, said CNS Shandong's presence was a major highlight of the exercises.

"As a strategic tool in our navy, the Shandong's recent voyage in western Pacific Ocean has symbolized the rapid rise in the navy's ocean-bound combat capabilities. It has also sent a strong signal to 'Taiwan independence' forces," she said.

Based on the Shandong'straining subjects in the exercises, it is fair to say that the carrier battle group has reliable power to keep dominance in the air and in the sea, Tang said.

"The operations are intended to establish battlefield advantages and overwhelming capabilities. We will make it crystal clear to the armed forces in Taiwan that their useless resistance will only turn them into cannon fodder of 'Taiwan independence'," she said.

Responding to a question on whether China worries about possible tensions in the regional security situation, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Monday that the Taiwan question is purely an internal affair of China and that the one-China principle is a general consensus in the international community.

"Currently, the biggest threats to peace across the Taiwan Straits are the 'Taiwan independence' separatist acts and the connivance with and support from foreign forces," Wang said. "Anyone who wishes for peace and stability across the Straits must firmly oppose all forms of 'Taiwan independence' separatist acts."

In another development, the PLA's Southern Theater Command said it had sent air and naval forces to monitor the USS Milius destroyer that illegally entered the waters near Meiji Reef in the South China Sea.

Senior Colonel Tian Junli, spokesman for the command, said its forces are always on high alert to resolutely safeguard China's sovereignty, and peace and stability in the South China Sea.

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


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