China’s First Aircraft Carrier Leaves Homeport for Sea Trials

 

China’s First Aircraft Carrier Leaves Homeport for Sea Trials

China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, has left its homeport of Qingdao in east China’s Shandong Province to conduct scientific experiments and sea training, naval authorities said Tuesday.

This was the first time for the carrier to leave its homeport to conduct training voyage since it anchored there in February, according to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy.

The Liaoning and its crew members had conducted a series of scheduled tests and training drills in the homeport during the period.

Currently, China operates one aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which was refitted based on an unfinished Russian-made carrier and delivered to the Navy on Sept. 25, 2012.

Taiwan renews arms sales call amid US-China summit

Taiwan renews arms sales call amid US-China summit
Taiwan urged the United States Sunday to continue arming it with defensive weapons as it kept a wary eye on the first summit between US President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

During the meeting in California, the Chinese side had asked the US to end its arms sales to Taiwan, which Beijing sees as part of its territory.

“We urge the United States to continue selling defensive weapons to the Republic of China (Taiwan) according to the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances the United States promised to Taiwan,” Taiwan’s defence ministry spokesman David Lo told reporters.

Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979. But it has continued to arm the island in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act approved by Congress the same year.

In 1982 the Reagan administration orally delivered “Six Assurances” to Taipei, promising not to set a date to end arms sales to Taiwan, nor to hold prior consultations with China on such sales.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry has set up a group to monitor Xi’s visit to the United States, officials said.

Ties across the Taiwan Straits have improved markedly since Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan’s China-friendly Kuomintang party came to power in 2008. He was re-elected in January 2012.

But Beijing has still refused to renounce the possible use of force to reunify with Taiwan, even though the island has ruled itself since the end of a civil war on the mainland in 1949.

Taiwan has continued to seek advanced weapons, largely from the United States.

Afghanistan: three Americans and one Italian killed in separate attacks

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Three Nato soldiers and a civilian have been killed in two separate attacks in Afghanistan.

Two US soldiers and an American civilian were killed in Paktika when a man in an Afghan army uniform turned his weapon on them, according to a spokeswoman for Afghanistan’s Nato-led force. The attacker was killed in a shootout which also injured two US soldiers.

In western Afghanistan, an attacker threw explosives into an armoured vehicle, killing an Italian soldier and wounding three others.

The Italian defence ministry said the attack in Farah province came as the soldiers were returning to their base from training Afghan security forces.

The convoy of three armoured vehicles slowed down near a junction and an attacker ran up and threw an explosive device into the lead vehicle. The three wounded soldiers’ injuries were not life-threatening, the ministry said.

The Taliban took responsibility for the attack, with a spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, claiming that the attacker was an 11-year-old boy.

The deaths on Saturday brought to 16 the number of international troops killed in Afghanistan this month. On Thursday, seven Georgian soldiers died in a lorry bombing at their base in the south.

Taliban insurgents have launched intense attacks across the country as Afghan forces take over most security responsibility before the majority of foreign troops withdraw next year.

Afghanistan: 6 georgian soldiers killed in a suicide attack in Afghanistan

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The Georgian military says six of its soldiers have been killed in a suicide attack in southern Afghanistan.

General Irakli Dzneladze, chief of the Georgian Army Joint Staff, said during a news conference in Tbilisi that the troops were killed when militants blew up a truck packed with explosives outside their base in restive Helmand Province.

Dzneladze said several soldiers were also injured.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

The incident comes after three Georgian soldiers were killed in a similar attack in Helmand on May 13.

Chinese patrols in Asian seas ‘legitimate’: general

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Chinese warships will continue to patrol waters where Beijing has territorial claims, a top general said Sunday, amid simmering rows with neighbouring countries over the South China Sea and islands controlled by Japan.

Lieutenant General Qi Jianguo, deputy chief of the general staff of the People’s Liberation Army, defended the patrols as legitimate and said his country’s sovereignty over the areas could not be disputed.

“Why are Chinese warships patrolling in East China Sea and South China Sea? I think we are all clear about this,” Qi told the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore.

“Our attitude on East China Sea and South China Sea is that they are in our Chinese sovereignty. We are very clear about that,” he said through an interpreter.

“So the Chinese warships and the patrolling activities are totally legitimate and uncontroversial.”

Qi was responding to a question from a delegate after giving a speech in which he sought to assure neighbouring countries that China has no hegemonic ambitions.

“China has never taken foreign expansion and military conquering as a state policy,” he said.

One delegate however said there appeared to be growing regional scepticism over China’s peaceful intentions because it was inconsistent with moves to send naval patrols to waters where other countries also have claims.

China is locked in a territorial dispute with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea.

The four states have partial claims to islands but China says it has sovereign rights to nearly all of the sea, including areas much closer to other countries and thousands of kilometres from the Chinese coast.

China also has a dispute with Japan over the Senkaku islands, which Beijing calls the Diaoyus, in the East China Sea.

“I do hope the statements of the good general today will be translated into action,” Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told reporters.

He said Qi’s remarks about China having no hegemonic ambitions were “far from what is happening” in the sea.

Manila last month protested at what it called the “provocative and illegal presence” of a Chinese warship near Second Thomas Shoal, which is occupied by Philippine troops.

Among the other moves that have caused alarm were China’s occupation of a shoal near the Philippines’ main island last year, and the deployment in March of Chinese naval ships to within 80 kilometres (50 miles) of Malaysia’s coast.

Competing claims have for decades made the area — home to rich fishing grounds and vital global shipping lanes and believed to sit atop vast natural gas deposits — one of Asia’s potential military flashpoints.

China and Vietnam fought in 1974 and 1988 for control of islands in battles that left dozens of soldiers dead.

The US-China strategic rivalry also loomed large during the conference, with US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Saturday accusing Beijing of waging cyber espionage against the United States.

But General Qi on Sunday allayed concerns that China had dropped a pledge not to be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict.

Omission of the “no-first-use” pledge in a recent defence white paper had created ripples in military circles and sparked speculation that China may have abandoned the policy.

Qi also distanced his government from claims by some Chinese scholars that the Ryukyu Islands, which include Okinawa, do not belong to Japan.

“This is only an article of particular scholars and their views on these issues… it does not represent the views of the Chinese government,” he said.

Maritime disputes and the risks of conflicts that could hurt Asia’s economic growth were a running theme during the three-day conference that ended Sunday.

“Asia holds great promise for ourselves and the world but continued peace and prosperity in this region are neither fait accompli nor automatic,” Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen told the conference.

“Instead, if we are to continue to enjoy stability and progress, we must work effectively in unison to strengthen areas of common interests.”

The Philippines’ Gazmin defended Manila’s move unilaterally to bring its territorial dispute with China before a UN tribunal after China refused to take part.

“We hope that the arbitration tribunal will issue a clarification in accordance with international law that will direct China to respect our sovereign rights,” Gazmin told the forum.

Russian S-300 missiles haven’t made it to Syria, but MiG fighter jets might

Russian media reports suggested the S-300 missiles have not made it into Assad’s hands yet, but fighter jets might be.

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Russia has not yet delivered the rumored S-300 air defense missile systems to Syria, Russian media reports said Friday.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who can count Moscow as his last remaining ally, seemed to imply on Thursday that part of the controversial shipment had arrived, without referring to the missiles by name.

The S-300 missiles would make a no-fly zone in Syrian air space particularly hard to establish, and would make it possible to shoot down aircrafts in the air above neighbors Turkey and Israel.

A source close to the Defense Ministry in Moscow reportedly said the “hardware itself” had not arrived yet, though the contract was still in place, Reuters reported.

Sources quoted by Russian outlets Kommersant and Vedomosti also said that no delivery of missiles had taken place. Vedomosti said the S-300 contract was worth $1 billion and was agreed upon in 2010.

More from GlobalPost: US woman among 3 Westerners killed fighting for Syrian rebels

Meanwhile, Russia aircraft maker MiG said Friday that it planned to sign an agreement that would send 10 fighter jets to Syria. Sergei Korotkov, MiG’s director general, said a delegation from Syria was discussing the contract for the MiG-29 M/M2 fighters, according to the Associated Press.

The AP noted that he could be referring to a previous deal that was put on hold during Syria’s civil war.

The war between Assad’s troops and Syrian rebels has claimed more than 80,000 people according to United Nations estimates, and the conflict is threatening to spill over the country’s borders.

The UN Security Council on Friday blacklisted Jabhat al-Nusra, one of the rebel factions fighting against Assad, as an alias of Al Qaeda in Iraq. The decision will place the extremist group under sanctions including an arms embargo, a freeze on assets and a travel ban.

Jabhat al-Nusra was designated a terrorist organization by the United States in December 2012.

Russian nuclear subs to patrol south seas

For the first time in more than 20 years, Moscow intends to send nuclear submarines to patrol the southern hemisphere, Russia’s state-run Itar-Tass news agency reported.

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Moscow will resume nuclear submarine patrols in the southern hemisphere, Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency reported, following President Vladimir Putin’s recent decision to send a naval unit to the Mediterranean Sea.

The move, yet another example of the Kremlin’s intent to build its naval military, is the first time in more than 20 years that Russia will have a nuclear submarine in the southern hemisphere with Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capability.

“The revival of nuclear submarine patrols will allow us to fulfill the tasks of strategic deterrence not only across the North Pole but also the South Pole,” state-run Itar-Tass cited an unnamed official in the military General Staff as saying.

Though the New START treaty Russia agreed to limits the number of nuclear weapons and launchers it can deploy, the Borie-class subs still carry up to 16 long-range nuclear missiles.

“As the Russian Navy receive the Borie-class missile submarines, they will not only continue to patrol the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, but will resume execution of combat missions in those regions of the world’s ocean, where in the late 90s of the last century used to be the Soviet Navy, and where they have ceased to appear following the collapse of the Soviet Union,” Itar-Tass’ source said.

It’s thought the new patrols will be added over a few years, with more new submarines, such as the Yuri Dolgoruky, to be built over the next seven years. To date, Russia has nine nuclear submarines in its Nothern and Pacific Fleets.