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Mainland China’s Shandong carrier trains near Taiwan as US, allies stage Rimpac drill

The carrier was escorted by the Type 055 guided-missile destroyer Yanan, the Type 052D destroyer Guilin and the Type 054A guided-missile frigate Yuncheng, the ministry said on Tuesday.

Their presence in those waters, around 520km (320 miles) southeast of Japan’s Miyako Island, coincides with the month-long Rim of the Pacific (Rimpac) exercise, the biggest international naval drill, hosted by the US Pacific Fleet.

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The biennial exercise involves 29 nations, 40 surface ships, three submarines, over 150 aircraft and more than 25,000 personnel. It began near Hawaii on June 26 and will run until early next month.

The US has said the purpose of the exercise is to “deter and defeat aggression by major powers across all domains and levels of conflict” and one of the main features will be an effort to sink a 40,000-tonne retired US vessel. Apart from the US, only China possesses warships of this kind in the Indo-Pacific.

Many of the countries taking part in the exercise – including Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and India – have their own maritime or territorial disputes with China, including in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s defence ministry said it had detected dozens of sorties near the island from PLA Air Force planes, including fighters, bombers, drones and early warning aircraft.

The planes flew from the Chinese mainland, making 26 sorties on Tuesday and 37 the following day. They went as far as the Bashi Channel in what the ministry believes was “joint air-sea training” with the Shandong strike group.

Taiwan’s military will be carrying out its own training exercise later this month designed to deter a simulated People’s Liberation Army landing.

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The Shandong’s current mission is its fourth in the Western Pacific in about nine months. It had earlier been detected northwest of the main Philippine island of Luzon, prompting the Philippine armed forces to express concern about its presence.

The Chinese foreign ministry declined to comment on the reports.

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