Thursday, January 2, 2014

China's first aircraft carrier completes manoevres in South China Sea

Published on Jan 2, 2014
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China's first aircraft carrier, the 66,000 tonne Liaoning, successfully completed a series of tests in the disputed South China Sea region, state media reported. The drills were carried out off the coast of Hainan Island and marked the first time the country has sent a carrier into the South China Sea, and the first time one has manoeuvred with a strike group of escort ships. China state television revealed that the Liaoning was flanked by two destroyers, two frigates, aircraft and submarines during the drills. This latest public test comes as China continues to use its growing naval force to back their claim of rich areas of gas and oil in the South China Sea. Growing military budgets in the country have also raised fears of clashes with other countries in the region, including the Philippines and Vietnam. The US Navy has said that the USS Cowpens narrowly avoided colliding with a Chinese warship escorting the Liaoning while operating in international waters on December 5. China has claimed that the Cowpens was "warned" of the operations and is "intentionally" putting the aircraft carrier under surveillance. Report by Laurie Blake.