China’s aircraft carrier ‘will push range far into Pacific’
Commentary by Communist Party mouthpiece says warship will extend missions into seas well beyond Japan, amid unease over China’s increasing military presence
China’s sole aircraft carrier is not an “otaku” - Japanese slang for somebody who spends all their time at home - and will soon patrol far into the Eastern Pacific, according to a commentary written by the People’s Daily.
The comment piece in the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper comes after concerns were raised in Japan about the PLA aircraft carrier Liaoning carrying out its first training drills in the Western Pacific last month.
The exercises involved the warship sailing beyond the so-called first island chain, an area that includes Japan’s Ryukyu Islands and Taiwan, and into the Pacific to carry out the drills.
“The first island chain can no longer impact on the Chinese military to any great extent. Crossing it has become the new normal, ” the commentary said.
“The aircraft carrier is not an otaku. It will sooner or later cross the second island chain [east of Japan] and reach the Eastern Pacific,” the article said, referring to the Japanese term associated with nerdish and reclusive behaviour.
The Liaoning and an accompanying fleet crossed the Miyako Strait, a body of water between the Japanese islands of Miyako and Okinawa, and headed into the Pacific on December 25.
The move came amid heightened tensions over China’s increasingly assertive claims to sovereignty in the East and South China Seas and Beijing’s strained relations with Taiwan.
Chinese military aircraft flew over the East China Sea to the south of Japan’s Okinawa Island and circled international airspace surrounding Taiwan before returning to the mainland on December 10.
It was the second time in two weeks that Chinese military aircraft flew near Taiwan and passed over the Miyako Strait.
The People’s Daily said in the commentary the aim of the missions was to ensure peace and stability in the region.
“If we are to bear the responsibility of maintaining the peace, we cannot squat in a typhoon shelter,” it said.
“We have to react swiftly if needed. Be brave to show force and actions speak louder than words.”