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Update: China's Liaoning sorties more than 100 aircraft near Japan, Taiwan

A PLAN J-15 fighter aircraft takes off from China's Liaoning aircraft carrier in the East China Sea in May 2022. CAIG Z-18 ASW helicopters can also been seen on the deck of the carrier. (Japan Ministry of Defence)

The aircraft carrier Liaoning of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) navy flew more than 100 sorties in six days in a series of drills near Japan and Taiwan.

In a press conference on 11 May, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said that the drills involved flights by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation J-15 fighter jets of the PLA navy plus helicopters conducting anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations.

The drills, spanning a week from May 3 to 9, took place about 160 to 230 km southwest of Okidaito Island in Japan's Okinawa Prefecture and about 160 km south of Japan's Ishigaki Island. Drills south of Ishigaki Island took place about 335 km east of Taiwan.

β€œThe activities of the Chinese military this time may be aimed at improving the carrier's operational capability and enhance its ability to carry out operations at more distant littoral and aerial ranges,” Kishi said.

β€œAs the activities in the sea and airspace are close to Japan's Nansei Islands and Taiwan, such activities have to be watched with concern,” Kishi added.

According to information from Japan's Joint Staff of the Ministry of Defense (MoD), the Chinese carrier group was tracked from May 1, when it was about 175 km southwest of South Korea's Jeju-do Island in the East China Sea.

The surface combatants accompanying the Liaoning comprised one Renhai-class Type 055 missile destroyer (Nanchang), three Luyang III-class Type 052D missile destroyers (Xining, Urumqi, and Chengdu), one Luyang II-class Type 052C missile destroyer (Zhengzhou

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