China’s Aircraft Carrier Strike Group Was a Message to Washington – “Gunboat diplomacy” is alive and well in the 21st century, but it isn’t the old school colonial powers that are employing it. Last week, China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Liaoning Carrier Strike Group transited the Miyako Strait to the East China Sea after conducting drills in the Pacific Ocean and the Philippine Sea for more than two weeks.
The Liaoning, the PLAN’s first aircraft carrier, had wrapped up three weeks of exercises and is now expected to arrive at its home base at the port of Qingdao in Shandong province this weekend. The carrier will begin a significant maintenance break, and its crew will begin a rest cycle.
The PLAN strike group that took part in the exercise included eight ships: the carrier CNS Liaoning (16); Type 055 destroyer CNS Nanchang (101); Type 052D destroyers CNS Xining (117), CNS Urumqi (118) and CNS Chengdu (120); Type 052C destroyer CNS Zhengzhou (151), Type 054A frigate CNS Xiangtan (531) and Type 901 fast combat support ship CNS Hulunhu (901).
The movements of the Chinese naval force were closely tracked.
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) support ship JS Amakusa (AMS-4303) and a JMSDF P-3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 5 based at Naha Airbase, Okinawa conducted surveillance on the movements of PLAN flotilla; while Japanese destroyers JS Asahi (DD-119) and JS Makinami (DD-112) along with the replenishment ship JS Hamana (AOE-424) monitored the PLAN warships in the waters of the Miyako Strait.
Solemn Warning via Aircraft Carrier?
Shi Yi, spokesperson from the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA’s) Eastern Theater Command, said on Wednesday that the joint naval and air combat-readiness exercise that involved the carrier strike group was a “solemn warning against recent collusion between the United States and Taiwan.”
Beijing maintains that Taiwan is a breakaway province that will be returned to mainland control, and by force if necessary.
It was on Monday, however, that President Biden asserted that the U.S. will militarily defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion attempt. It was actually the second time since October that White House aides have had to walk back the president’s comments that had appeared to reverse the longtime policy of “strategic ambiguity” regarding U.S. willingness to defend the self-governing island.
“As the President said, our policy has not changed. He reiterated our One China Policy and our commitment to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” a White House official said Monday in a statement, Politico reported. “He also reiterated our commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taiwan with the military means to defend itself.”
The Chinese Communist Party considers “reunification with Taiwan” as a “historical task,” despite the fact that it has never ruled the island nation.
Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.