Chinese Central Television (CCTV) reported Thursday that "This is the first time an aircraft carrier squadron has performed drills with live ammunition and real troops," noting that ten aircraft and ten vessels carried out air-to-sea, sea-to-air and air-to-air combat drills featuring guided missiles.
China’s Shenyang J-15 fighter jet participated in the drill, carrying live missiles, along with anti-missile, aerial interception, and anti-aircraft activities carried out by an arrangement of warships and the Liaoning, a Soviet-built aircraft carrier modified for use by the Chinese navy.
Although no other country has claims to the Bohai Sea, increased tensions with Taiwan loom in the background of the drills after a recent phone call between US President-elect Donald Trump and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.
On Wednesday Chinese ambassador Cui Tiankai made a veiled threat to the Trump administration stating that China would not compromise its sovereignty.
Without naming Taiwan or Trump’s apparently cavalier attitude toward the decades-old "One China policy," Cui said, "basic norms of international relations should be observed, not ignored, certainly not be seen as something you can trade off…And indeed, national sovereignty and territorial integrity are not bargaining chips. Absolutely not. I hope everybody would understand that."
Cui added, "The political foundation of China-US relations should not be undermined. It should be preserved."
On Wednesday the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a US think tank, reported that Beijing has been installing anti-missile and anti-aircraft systems on man-made islands in the South China Sea, despite China’s claims to the contrary.
Citing satellite imagery, the report, drafted by CSIS’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), called the installations, "an evolution of point-defense fortifications already constructed at China's smaller facilities on Gaven, Hughes, Johnson, and Cuarteron reefs," and stated that, "These gun and probable CIWS [close-in weapons systems] emplacements show that Beijing is serious about defence of its artificial islands in case of an armed contingency in the South China Sea."
China’s Defense Ministry defended the military installations, claiming that “they are mainly for defense and self-protection and are legitimate and lawful…If someone makes a show of force at your front door, would you not ready your slingshot?” according to Shanghai Daily.
The show of force referenced by the Ministry relate to Washington’s recent "freedom of navigation" patrols near islands held by China. In July Chinese military representative Sun Jianguo warned that a continued presence of foreign navies in Chinese territory could end "in a disastrous way."