Last week, we reported that satellite images had captured China’s only aircraft carrier in deployment, the Liaoning, flanked by 40 other warships and submarines, conducting unprecedented live-fire drills in the South China Sea. This massive Chinese naval exercise was observed for the first time, with China watchers pointing out that such a forceful display of deterrence was highly unusual for the People’s Liberation Army Navy. Perhaps in light of recent events, it was merely a warning.
Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval specialist, said, “it was the first time the Liaoning had taken part in live-fire drills. This will test the Liaoning’s real combat strength as well as joint-operations skills between the aircraft carrier and warships from other fleets.”
“China wants to show the outside world its determination to defend the fruits of its economic reforms over the past 40 years,” Beijing-based military analyst Zhou Chenming said.“Like the US, China’s military might is one of the government’s political tools to protect the country’s national interests.”
Now, according to the South China Morning Post, as Beijing flexes its naval war muscle, the US is preparing for its own “show of force” naval drill in the Asia-Pacific region, and in close proximity to the Liaoning. The Pentagon is reportedly sending an unprecedented three aircraft carrier battle groups to the region, with the USS Theodore Roosevelt flotilla arriving in Singapore sometime early next week.
Separately, the USS Carl Vinson and its fleet have just paid a first visit to the Vietnamese coastal city of Da Nang since the end of the Vietnam war, a move Chinese military experts said was aimed at countering Beijing’s influence in the region.
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