Beijing [China], Dec. 26 : The Chinese Navy is reportedly planning a training exercise in the Pacific that would for the first time include its sole aircraft carrier.
If done, this move is likely to ratchet up regional tensions. The duration of the drill and the route of the flotilla are not yet known. But, the Soviet-made carrier is based in the north-eastern city of Dalian, suggesting the fleet would enter the Pacific through a disputed island chain between Taiwan and Japan.
"A Chinese navy formation, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning, headed towards the West Pacific on Saturday for scheduled blue-water training," Xinhua reported on Saturday, citing China's navy spokesperson Liang Yang.
According to media reports, Japan's Defence Ministry confirmed eight Chinese vessels, including the carrier and three destroyers, being spotted by one of its ships in the central part of the East China Sea on Saturday afternoon.
The Chinese Navy drills are seen as a show of strength at a time of rising tensions with Taiwan and the United States.