The People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN’s) lead Type 055 (Renhai)-class destroyer, Nanchang (pennant number 101), has for the first time joined the escort group for the aircraft carrier Liaoning and, according to Japan’s Ministry of Defense, deployed into the Pacific Ocean east of Taiwan on 3 April.

Japan Self-Defense Force aircraft and a destroyer identified the other Chinese supporting ships as the Type 052D (Luyang III)-class destroyers Chengdu (120) and Taiyuan (131), the Type 054A (Jiangkai II)-class frigate Huanggang (577), and the Type 901 (Fuyu)-class fast replenishment ship Hulunhu (965), and monitored the carrier group as it passed through the Miyako Strait south of Okinawa.

In a statement released on 5 April, People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) spokesperson Senior Captain Gao Xiucheng said the group was conducting a “routine” training exercise in waters around Taiwan. However, a report published the following day by the Chinese state-owned Global Times newspaper was headlined, “PLA carrier, warplanes surround Taiwan in drills, in show of capability to cut off foreign intervention”.

The report also referred to the presence of Chinese military aircraft in the airspace near Taiwan. The Ministry of National Defense in Taipei stated that 10 PLA aircraft had entered the southern part of Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) on 5 April. These were identified as four J-16 and four J-10 fighter aircraft, a Y-8 maritime patrol aircraft, and a KJ-500 airborne early warning and control aircraft.

The same day, Global Times