TAIPEI Dec 28 China's sole aircraft carrier the
Liaoning has arrived at a naval base on the southern Chinese
province of Hainan, a senior Taiwanese military officer said on
Wednesday, after drills that took it around the island China
claims as its own.
China has given few details of what the Soviet-built
Liaoning is up to, save that it is on a routine exercise.
Taiwan has said the aircraft carrier skirted waters outside
its air defence identification zone to its east and south and
then headed across the top of the South China Sea to Hainan,
home to a large Chinese naval base.
"The Liaoning aircraft carrier has reached the Hainan
military base. We will continue to monitor its developments," a
senior Taiwanese military official told Reuters, on condition of
China has been testing the aircraft carrier's systems and
coordination with other military equipment, the officer said,
and its arrival in Hainan did not mean its mission was over.
"Once you go out, don't you need to go home?" the officer
The drill, which included accompanying warships, comes amid
renewed tension over Taiwan, which China claims as its own and
says is ineligible for state-to-state relations, following U.S.
President-elect Donald Trump's telephone call with the island's
president that upset Beijing.
China's air force conducted long-range drills this month
above the East and South China Seas that rattled Japan and
Taiwan. China said those exercises were also routine.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which
about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year.
Neighbours Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam
also have claims.
The Liaoning has taken part in previous exercises, including
in the South China Sea, but China is years away from perfecting
carrier operations similar to those the United States has
practised for decades.
Last December, the defence ministry confirmed China was
building a second aircraft carrier but its launch date is
unclear. The aircraft carrier programme is a state secret.
(Reporting by J.R. Wu; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by