World Bulletin / News Desk
Japan’s government will continue to “monitor carefully” a Chinese aircraft carrier set to conduct naval exercises in the Western Pacific, Tokyo’s top spokesman said Monday.
Kyodo news agency quoted Yoshihide Suga as telling reporters that the movement by the Liaoning -- China's first aircraft carrier -- and an accompanying naval fleet is "a show of expansion of the abilities of China's naval forces".
Over the weekend, Chinese navy spokesman Liang Yang said the flotilla -- which includes several destroyers and frigates -- headed toward the Western Pacific on Saturday for an annual training session.
In recent weeks, the Liaoning had conducted training -- including its first live-fire exercise earlier this month -- in the Yellow Sea, the Bohai Sea and East China Sea.
On Monday, Suga said the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force spotted the Chinese naval formation around 110 kilometers (68 miles) northeast of the Japanese island of Miyako on Sunday morning.
He underlined that Tokyo would continue to monitor carefully the movements of Chinese vessels in waters around Japan.
The Liaoning is a refitted Russian-made carrier delivered from Ukraine to China’s People's Liberation Army in September 2012.
In January, the national defense ministry announced that China is designing and building its second aircraft carrier, a 50,000-ton carrier that would be entirely of independent Chinese design and powered conventionally rather than by nuclear energy.
China has been modernizing its naval capacity at a time when the United States and its allies -- including Japan -- are expressing alarm at its maritime expansion, which they suspect is aimed at extending its military reach.
On Monday, the Ministry of National Defense of Taiwan -- which Beijing considers a breakaway province -- said the Chinese aircraft carrier and five warships sailed in waters south of the island territory overnight.
Taiwan’s official Central News Agency cited the ministry as saying that its fighter jets and warships were monitoring the fleet’s movement and “ready to respond”.Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Aralık 2016, 11:04