China Flexes Military Muscle Before Donald Trump Takes Office

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An aircraft carrier in the Pacific and a newly upgraded combat aircraft: China’s military is showing off its newest equipment less than a month before the swearing-in of US President-elect Donald Trump, who has raised tensions between Beijing and Taipei.

In recent days state media announced that the country’s only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning+ , was on its way to the Pacific for the first time, while a new fighter, the FC-31, had its debut flight test.

They are the latest steps in the years-long build-up of China’s military, as Beijing seeks greater global power to match its economic might and asserts itself more aggressively in its own backyard, but the timing raises questions about its intentions.

The show of strength comes after Trump broke four decades of US policy by accepting a phone call from Taiwanese President+ Tsai Ing-wen, even though China objects to any official contact between its foreign partners and leaders of Taiwan.

China views self-ruling Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting unification, by force if necessary, even though the two sides split in 1949 after a civil war.

With its escort warships, the Liaoning was in the South China Sea on Monday, according to the Taiwanese defence ministry which monitored the carrier’s passage off its shores.

The manoeuvres were preceded by exercises on “refuelling and confrontation in flight”, according to the official news agency Xinhua.

“The threat from our enemy is increasing day by day,” Taiwan’s defence minister Feng Shih-kuan said Tuesday during a promotion ceremony for generals.

“We need to maintain combat vigilance at any time.” The demonstration of China’s naval capacity comes amid mounting concern on the mainland about the momentum of Taiwan’s independence movement, worries fuelled by Trump’s suggestion that he would consider recognising the self-ruled island as an independent nation. Read More…

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