Beijing, Dec 26 (IANS) China’s first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, has left for the waters of the Western Pacific to carry out military drills in the region, the Chinese Defence Ministry said.
The aircraft carrier left on Saturday and was spotted by Japan, according to its Defence Ministry statement on Sunday which clarified that it had not entered Japanese territorial waters.
The ministry added that the drills are a part of the annual routine exercises, although it comes at a moment of tensions in the Pacific owing to the recent phone conversation between US President-elect Donald Trump and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, Efe reports.
This month, Liaoning has been carrying out drills in the South and East China Sea, where China is involved in territorial disputes with its neighbours, including the Philippines and Japan.
The aircraft carrier also carried out military exercises in the Yellow Sea, which separates China from the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
According to the Chinese Defence Ministry, the Russian-made Liaoning has been acquired from Ukraine and reconstructed for use mainly in training and research missions.