01:06 GMT +309 December 2016
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    Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning cruises for a test in the sea (File photo)

    Beijing Plans Aircraft Carrier Patrols in Disputed South China Sea

    © AP Photo/ Xinhua, Li Tang
    Asia & Pacific
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    The Chinese Navy will likely deploy an aircraft carrier for permanent operations in the South China Sea, where China and other countries in the region are feuding over competing territorial claims, an expert said.

    Professor Chu Shulong, the director of the Institute of International Strategic and Development Studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing, told IHS Jane’s that the deployment will likely occur when the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy's second aircraft carrier is fully operational.

    "For the Northern Sea, Yellow Sea, and Eastern Sea, China does not need an aircraft carrier. Chinese land-based [aircraft] are capable of reaching places like the Diaoyu Islands," Chu said, in reference to the territories also claimed by Japan and known in Tokyo as the Senkaku Islands.

    However, the same cannot be said of China's territories in the South China Sea, the professor told IHS Jane's on Thursday.

    "Should the Americans send their [aircraft] and ships into the South China Sea, China currently does not have the [aerial] capacity to deal with such a challenge," Chu said.

    He added that it will take about an hour for Chinese fighter aircraft from the nearest airbase on Hainan Island to reach the southern regions of the South China Sea.

    "These challenges [from the United States] will most likely take place very frequently in the future," Chu said.

    The US Navy's freedom of navigation operations, notably the sailing of a warship past a Chinese-built island in October, has convinced Chinese military leaders that the deployment of an aircraft carrier in the South China Sea is necessary going forward, he added.

    The first-ever Chinese-built aircraft carrier is currently under construction at the Dalian Shipyard in China's Liaoning province. The vessel will join what is now China's only carrier, the Liaoning, a Soviet-era ship which Beijing purchased from Ukraine in 1998.

    China claims more than 90% of the South China Sea, but there are competing claims by Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and Taiwan.

    The head of US Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris, on Wednesday said the US Navy will continue to conduct freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea as a challenge to China's territorial claims in the region.

    The United States does not take a position on the territorial dispute, but strongly opposes China's construction of artificial islands in the region. Washington suspects the islands will be used as military outposts, while Beijing asserts they will serve primarily humanitarian purposes.

    Tags:
    territorial dispute, freedom of navigation, aircraft carrier, Liaoning, Harry Harris, China, United States, South China Sea
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    • If with that the us don't get they're not welcome, well I don't think they will understand in the future.
    • Andreas Koppa
      A very expensive patrol huh?
    • Is it because I am black?
      A fantastic-looking vessel, we Vulcanoids appreciate good buildmanship! Put stuff like that together with what the Russians have and we have a formidable force for the good!
    • Mother Gorilla
      Bush and Obama brought a lot of hardship to this earth, with the senseless Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the dispute with Russia, China, and Iran, the interventions in Syria, Libya, the sponsoring of Al Queda and now ISIS, the support for Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf dictatorships, the self-serving interventions on Blackie's and my continent and in South America as well, the recent refugee problem in Europe, and last but not least, the inability to manage the situation in Korea and East Asia in general! How good that the Russians and Chinese are responding!
    • cast235
      United States, was the one dividing that area, to gain an influence sphere. No one protested then. Now China power is growing and with it, the will and might to challenge those U.S decisions.
      That is the real reason must of the world opposes U.S " GLORY DAYS"...
      Because of the abuses.
    • sunrenfei
      what the US can do is just bluffing. it works with the weak and small nations but never works with the great nations such as China and Russia.
    • allperils
      If China didn't stake it's claim in the SCS, the enemy would have, and sealed off the sea route.
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