The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA Navy) Spokesperson Senior Captain Gao Xiucheng, officially confirmed the cross-regional maneuver training mission on the afternoon of April 13, two days after the task group of aircraft carrier Liaoning sailed through the Taiwan Strait, which has attracted extensive attention. This operation is a routine arrangement within the annual plan and complies with international laws and norms. The PLA Navy will continue to organize such training according to its plan, so as to boost the combat capability of its aircraft carrier task group.
For the PLA Navy, whether it is an aircraft carrier or a warship formation, the training tasks have always been routine. If it is officially announced by the navy, then there must be a reason. Either it is of great significance, such as the first offshore training task by Liaoning aircraft carrier in December 2016, or it has a special background and attracts special attention, such as this one. This is a routine arrangement of the annual training plan, not a sudden action taken to make use of the complex situation under CONVID-19 outbreak.
The Liaoning, was seen passing through the Miyako Strait near Okinawa, and then turning south. The Miyako Strait is about 330km (205 miles) due east of the northernmost tip of Taiwan. The PLA Navy task group accompanied by two destroyers, two frigates and a combat support ship. As tensions continue to simmer between Beijing and Taipei, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has increased its activities around the self-ruled island, which the mainland regards as part of its territory awaiting reunification.
The Liaoning is currently the only aircraft carrier active in the Pacific after the Covid-19 pandemic hit the US Navy and left a vacuum in the region. The USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier had been deployed in the region but was forced to dock in Guam after hundreds of its crew contracted the coronavirus. The ship’s captain was later sacked for disclosing information about the incident. A second US aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, is currently docked in Yokosuka, Japan, after members of its crew also tested positive for Covid-19.