A strike force led by the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning passed near Japan and Taiwan over the weekend, causing alarm in Tokyo and Taipei. Photo courtesy of China Ministry of Defense
April 13 (UPI) -- A Chinese aircraft carrier passed through the East China Sea over the weekend, a maneuver keeping defense ministries in Japan and Taiwan on edge.
The aircraft carrier Liaoning, accompanied by five other vessels in its strike group -- two guided missile destroyers, two multi-role warships and a fast combat supply ship -- carried out what a People's Liberation Army spokesman called "routine" exercises.
The vessel traveled through the 155-mile-wide Miyako Strait, between Japan's Ryukyu Islands and the Bashi Channel, then east of Taiwan toward the South China Sea. Both Tokyo and Taipei announced that they were monitoring the progress of the Chinese convoy.
China has ongoing territorial claims on the islands of the area, and the show of force comes as two U.S. aircraft carriers in the Pacific region are debilitated by the effects of the coronavirus.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt is in port in Guam, with much of its crew undergoing quarantine. The U.S. Navy said that 585 of the ship's crew of about 4,800 have tested positive for the virus.
The USS Ronald Reagan, undergoing maintenance in Yokohama, Japan, is preparing for deployment, but currently has 1,000 members of its strike force in quarantine.
One member of the USS Theodore Roosevelt's crew died of the virus, the Pentagon reported on Monday.
Hu Bo of the Peking University Center for Maritime Strategy Studies, writing in the Communist Party publication Global Times on Monday, said that "China will naturally expand the range and intensity of its activity, and will safeguard its inherent maritime interests more resolutely and pursue a more open and inclusive international maritime security order."
He added that a lack of preparedness and an excess of personnel deployed overseas are causing the United States military's issues in dealing with the coronavirus.
"As the most powerful military force in the world, with the highest level of combat readiness, the U.S. military's failure to contain the virus has been disappointing," Hu wrote.