Two Chinese aircraft carriers, the Shandong and the Liaoning, were seen in the country’s waters simultaneously. It marked the first publicly confirmed twin naval exercise for China. It comes as tensions between China and the US and India continue to rise, with American officials condemning Beijing’s military expansion.
Chinese state media outlet the Global Times reported the two aircraft carriers were spotted on military exercises over the same period.
The Shandong and Liaoning are believed to be training to increase combat capabilities.
The Shandong is the second aircraft carrier in China’s arsenal, entering service in December 2019.
They were spotted conducting drills by foreign satellites, as reported by Beijing-based Modern Ships magazine.
China’s navy has not officially confirmed the carriers operations.
Modern Ships suggested the two ships will give more naval power to China’s People’s Liberation Army.
An anonymous military expert told the Global Times the launch of the second aircraft carrier represents an increased power in efficiency and deployment for the PLA.
Li Jie, another naval expert, added to the Times they will become key forces amid pressure from the US in the Taiwan Straits and the South China Sea.
Mr Li added the aircraft carrier missions could help protect China’s maritime transport lanes from India.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also savaged China’s claims of “supremacy” over the South China Sea, and vowed to tackle their control of the area.
He said in July: “Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them.”
India has also ramped up military and naval drills in response to a lethal border clash with China.
Indian government sources said to news agency ANI: “Soon after the Galwan clash broke out in which 20 of our soldiers were killed, the Indian Navy deployed one of its frontline warship to the South China Sea where the People’s Liberation Army’s Navy objects to the presence of any other force claiming the majority of the waters as part of its territory.”
The twin carrier exercises come as Chinese officials have blamed the US for rising tensions, claiming the country wants a “new Cold War”.
Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, said while visiting Italy: “China will never want a Cold War … because a Cold War would be a step backwards.
“We will not let other countries do this for their own private interests, while damaging the interests of other countries.”
Zhiqun Zhu, Chinese expert on foreign policy, hit out at US President Donald Trump and his administration for “trying to stare down the PLA”.
He added: “They apparently have no interest to deescalate. It’s their daily routine to punch China.”