China’s second aircraft carrier made a successful voyage through the Taiwan Straits on Sunday, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) announced Monday.
According to the state propaganda outlet Global Times, the carrier sailed through the Taiwan Straits on Sunday before heading towards a designated area in the South China Sea for testing and training.
“Organizing the domestically built aircraft carrier for this cross-regional testing and training is a normal arrangement in the construction of the carrier,” said PLA Navy spokesperson Cheng Dewei. “The voyage is not aimed at any specific target, and is not related to other ongoing issues.”
Quoting an “anonymous expert,” the latest sea trial reportedly “allow[ed] the aircraft carrier crew to become familiar with the sea area where it will often sail in the future,” as well as to “study the southern seas and affirm that the testing is done in the Bohai Sea and the Yellow Sea near the Dalian Shipyard remains viable in southern waters.”
China claims most of the South China Sea, including territory belonging to Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Taiwan, and Malaysia, a source of political tensions across the affected countries. As a result, Beijing has aggressively expanded its naval and coast guard forces operations in recent years as they try to stake their claim on the territory.
Beijing particularly antagonizes Taiwan because it considers the sovereign nation a breakaway province, despite the fact that it functions as a fully independent democracy. China does not recognize Taiwan’s South China Sea claims because it alleges anything belong to Taiwan is naturally part of China.
In the case of the other four countries, Chinese officials claim their sovereign waters have been part of the People’s Republic of China – which is only 70 years old – since “ancient times.”
To assert this, China has dispatched weaponry including anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles, and electronic jammers to the region, claiming their presence is merely for search and rescue and research purposes.
Last month, Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe vowed that “the momentum of China’s reunification cannot be stopped by any individuals or forces,” adding that they will not “relinquish a single inch of territory passed down from our forefathers.” The remarks were widely interpreted as a reference to China’s claims over the territory.
Quoting “another anonymous expert,” the Times also attacked other countries who continue to assert their legal ownership of various territories.
“While China is striving to make the South China Sea a sea of peace, some countries from outside the region have been stirring trouble and causing instability,” the alleged expert explained.
“The commissioning of the new aircraft carrier will safeguard China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, protect peace in the South China Sea and help China fulfill its responsibility as a major country for regional and world peace,” he continued.