Beijing holds aircraft carrier drills near Taiwan

‘More exercises will be held in future’

China is holding naval drills involving an aircraft carrier battlegroup near Taiwan it said were aimed at safeguarding Chinese sovereignty, an apparent allusion to Beijing’s claim to the self-governed island.

The navy said the exercises involving the Liaoning, one of its two aircraft carriers, were routine and assigned under an annual schedule. China has been upping its threat to take control of the island militarily with exercises and routine incursions into the island’s air defence identification zone by Chinese warplanes. The Navy’s statement late on Monday did not say when the exercises began, but it said more such drills will be held in the future.

It said the exercises aimed to “assist in improving the ability to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests,” terms often interpreted as being directed at Taiwan’s democratically elected government, which has refused to give in to Beijing’s demands that it recognise the island as part of Chinese territory.

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