Tensions between China and US over Taiwan continue to simmer

Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning conducts drill in East China Sea

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A clip released by a state-run media outlet apparently shows a Chinese J-15 fighter jet warning off a US guided-missile destroyer, in a development which will do little to ease tensions between the two superpowers. The footage was aired during a military programme screened on Chinese Central Television (CCTV) – and appears to be genuine, one analyst said.

The CCTV show marked the 10th anniversary of the commissioning of the Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier.

The film shows a fighter jet taking off from the massive vessel, which is more than 300 metres in length.

A vessel resembling an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer then briefly appears below a Chinese jet – possibly the one shown earlier – and a warning appears to be issued by the pilot.

Yue Gang, a former Chinese colonel, said the ship’s double funnel, anti-submarine torpedoes, and lifeboats were consistent with the appearance of the class of US ships in question.

He explained: “The J-15 was located on the side of the US warship and was a few hundred metres above the water, which shows the fighter aircraft was conducting a warning and expulsion mission.

“It shows that there is already a combat-capable aircraft carrier among China’s three aircraft carriers.”

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Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the state-run Global Times newspaper: “China has been training carrier-based pilots for more than a decade, and with training courses becoming increasingly challenging, the pilots are becoming more capable.

“They have garnered long flight time and are very experienced.”

Global Times also flagged a separate news report carried by CCTV claiming the Liaoning aircraft carrier group had “spotted a group of unknown aircraft” on a recent exercise in the West Pacific and that “Several J-15 fighter jets took off to deal with them”.

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While there is no independent confirmation, Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are widely used by the US Navy, with South Korea and Japan having similar vessels.

On September 18, a US Navy warship and a Canadian frigate made a routine transit through the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday, the militaries of both nations said.

The transit was the second in a month by a US Navy ship, and the second jointly by the United States and Canada in less than a year, since October 2021.

In a statement the US Navy said: “Cooperation like this represents the centrepiece of our approach to a secure and prosperous region.”

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Higgins and the Royal Canadian Navy’s Halifax-class frigate Vancouver made the transit through a corridor in the strait which is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal state, it added.

Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand said that as a Pacific nation, her country was deeply committed to upholding global stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

She said: “Today’s routine Taiwan Strait transit demonstrates our commitment to a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.”

Taiwan’s foreign ministry welcomed the action, saying: “This operation though the Taiwan Strait is, even more, a concrete demonstration of the resolute opposition of democratic allies to China’s expansion attempts.”

China regards the island of Taiwan as part of its territory in accordance with its One China doctrine.

The Eastern Theatre Command of China’s People’s Liberation Army said its forces monitored the ships and “warned them”.

It added: “Theatre forces are always on high alert, resolutely counter all threats and provocations, and resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

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