China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, passed through the Taiwan Strait on Thursday morning on its way to a training mission in the South China Sea.(Photo  
A Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman said on Thursday that the navy harbor in south China’s Sanya City has the preliminary capability of docking China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.

The aircraft carrier is currently on a scientific and training mission in the South China Sea, said Yang Yujun, the ministry’s spokesman, at a monthly news briefing.

"The harbor in Sanya has the preliminary capability of docking the aircraft carrier," Yang said, in response to a question whether the Liaoning will be docking at the Sanya base.

The Liaoning left its home port of Qingdao in east China’s Shandong Province for the South China Sea on Tuesday, and passed through the Taiwan Strait on Thursday morning.

This is the first time the Liaoning has conducted a cross-sea training voyage since it was commissioned into the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy last year.

It was escorted by two missile destroyers, the Shenyang and Shijiazhuang, and two missile frigates, the Yantai and Weifang.

In response to a question about why the vessel passed through the Taiwan Strait, Yang said the Liaoning’s South China Sea trial had been announced in advance, and it is a normal arrangement in the carrier’s scheduled training.

"It does not target any region or any country, and has nothing to do with the current international situation," said Yang. "There is no need for over-interpretation."

Long cross-sea voyages are a necessary stage of experimentation and training to test equipment and troops under continuous use and different hydrological and meteorological conditions.

The Liaoning is China’s only aircraft carrier in operation. It was refitted based on an unfinished Russian-made carrier and delivered to the navy on Sept. 25, 2012.


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