China will continue to expand its military power into distant waters, despite U.S. criticisms, state-run media warned Sunday.
China intends to carry out military exercises farther from its shores, the People’s Daily, the main publication of the ruling Communist Party of China, explained, adding that blue-water drills like those recently conducted by China’s aircraft carrier battle group will become the norm.
Led by the Liaoning, China’s sole carrier battle group raised several alarms in the Asia Pacific as it traversed the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, Western Pacific, South China Sea, and Taiwan Strait.
“From now on, Chinese military training in distant seas will be routine,” the People’s Daily stated.
In recent years, Chinese power projection activities, especially those carried out in disputed waters, have stirred discontent in the region. In particular, the construction of militarized outposts in the contested South China Sea have been a source of tension.
While the U.S. did not criticize China’s carrier drills, it has openly opposed China’s militarization of contested waters.
During his recent confirmation hearing, Rex Tillerson, President Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state, threatened to get tough on China at sea. “We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops and, second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed,” he asserted.
The People’s Daily argued that U.S. “word bombs” will not bring an end to China’s military exercises or power projection.
“These provocations, pressure, nonsensical claims, and exaggerations will not prevent the normal drills of the Chinese military,” the paper said.
“Meddling and disruption by countries outside the region runs against the consensus of common interests of the region and the world,” the article added.
China has been investing heavily in its navy, an essential tool for the expansion of China’s military power. The flagship is the Liaoning, a Soviet-era heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser, purchased by China in the 1990s. It was refurbished and commissioned into the People’s Liberation Army Navy in 2012.
In an earlier People’s Daily report, the party paper stated that China plans to send its carrier battle group into the Eastern Pacific, just as the U.S. sends carrier groups into the Western Pacific.
A second, independently-produced aircraft carrier is close to completion; however, it will likely be some time before it is commissioned into the PLAN and deployed.
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