TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) - The ROC Armed Forces has been watching the PLA navy fleet — led by the Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier — “very closely” as it as it headed for the western Pacific for an open-sea training exercise.
The military on Sunday said it was closely monitoring the movement of a Chinese naval fleet near Taiwan in the western Pacific, warning it would “launch responsive measures if necessary.”
Military spokesman Chen Chung-chi said the ROC Armed Forces had been watching the PLA navy fleet — led by the Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier — “very closely” as it as it headed for the western Pacific for an open-sea training exercise.
The Ministry of National Defense (MND) said it was paying particular attention to the Liaoning and the accompanying fleet of guided-missile destroyers, frigates and supply ships, on if they will be heading to South China Sea via Bashi Channel to join with its South China Sea fleet at the conclusion of the exercise.
In doing so the fleet is expected to skirt the south of Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), the MND said.
The Chinese official Xinhua News Agency reported Saturday that the naval formation, including the Liaoning, was heading for the western Pacific for an exercise.
Later in the same day, Japanese defence destroyer spotted the Liaoning in the central part of the East China Sea for the first time.
According to Japan’s Kyodo News report, the fleet comprised seven other vessels — three guided-missile destroyers, three frigates and one supply ship — and was cruising eastward when the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) destroyer spotted it at around 4 pm Saturday.
While the ministry has not disclosed anything more on the fleet’s movements, the MSDF is closely monitoring the situation given the possibility that the Chinese naval vessels may transit waters near Japan and proceed to the western Pacific Ocean, the report said.
It is believed to be the first time for the Chinese aircraft carrier has sailed in the Pacific.
The Liaoning was converted from a Soviet-built hulk that China purchased from Ukraine in 1998. After undergoing extensive refitting in Dalian in northeastern China, it was commissioned in September 2012 as China’s first aircraft carrier.
The latest incident comes weeks after Chinese military aircraft skirted Taiwan’s ADIZ as cross-strait tensions continued to heighten.