The Chinese Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA) plans to move its Shandong aircraft carrier group to the South China Sea to confront the US Navy which has recently moved warships and heavy bombers to the Pacific port of Guam.
The PLA naval exercise during the last fortnight involving the training aircraft carrier, Liaoning, J-15 warplanes, other warships and submarines was intended to prepare for a larger deployment during the post-COVID-19 period, Chinese state-owned media reported.
Making things unpredictable for the Chinese: US Def Sec Esper
To counter China, the United States has changed the bomber presence in Guam, has done more freedom-of-navigation floats and flights and simply has made things more unpredictable for the Chinese, Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said during a Brookings Institution webinar on Monday.. U.S. Indo-Pacific Command has "done a good job in terms of maintaining that show of force, that deterrence, that capability and readiness that we need in the … region," he added.
Esper noted that a key tenet of the National Defense Strategy is dynamic force employment. "It's a way by which you maintain a degree of strategic predictability to ensure the readiness of your force, but garner a higher degree of operational unpredictability," he explained.
PLA Navy’s Shandong carrier group Vs. US aircraft carriers
“The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) is ready to defend against any US military provocation, even if the US resumes use of its aircraft carriers that are affected by COVID-19,” State-owned Global Times said quoting unnamed analysts on Tuesday.
China's recently commissioned second aircraft carrier, which is believed to be home-ported in the South China Sea's doorstep Hainan, will lead the force, military observers said. Also conducting exercises in the South China Sea are the warships of the PLA Navy 35th Escort Task Group. The destroyer Taiyuan, frigate Jingzhou and replenishment ship Chaohu conducted anti-piracy and live-fire shooting training there on Saturday, CCTV reported on Tuesday.
Anti-submarine aircraft under the PLA Southern Theater Command Navy recently conducted patrol and anti-submarine missions, the PLA Daily reported on Monday.
US B-1B bombers flyover South China Sea during May Day holiday
On April 28, the PLA Southern Theater Command expelled a US destroyer, the USS Barry, when it trespassed into China's territorial waters off the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea. However, the US continued and sent the USS Bunker Hill cruiser to the Nansha Islands on April 29. The US also reportedly flew B-1B bombers over the South China Sea and East China Sea during the May Day holiday, Chinese media reported.
Beijing-based military expert Wei Dongxu told the Global Times on Tuesday that the US has been sending reconnaissance aircraft to the First Island Chain to gather intelligence on China. Against these provocations, China needs to utilize its capability to grasp their activities and take appropriate countermeasures, Wei said.
Some of the Chinese provocations may be unprofessional conduct by pilots of sea captains, Esper said, but some bad behavior is "aggressive actions that are outside the norms of the international rules, whether they're claiming territory or space that simply is not theirs," Secretary he added.