PLA’s two aircraft carriers move out from homeports amid Pelosi’s alleged imminent Taiwan visit, satellite images and reports show ~ August 2, 2022

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Published: Aug 02, 2022 04:45 PM Updated: Aug 02, 2022 05:57 PMThe picture shows aircraft carrier Shandong berths at a naval port in Sanya. China's first domestically-made aircraft carrier Shandong (Hull 17) was officially commissioned to the PLA Navy at a military port in Sanya, South China's Hainan Province, on the afternoon of December 17, 2019, making China one of the few countries in the world that have multiple carriers. Photo:China Military

The picture shows aircraft carrier Shandong berths at a naval port in Sanya. China’s first domestically-made aircraft carrier Shandong (Hull 17) was officially commissioned to the PLA Navy at a military port in Sanya, South China’s Hainan Province, on the afternoon of December 17, 2019, making China one of the few countries in the world that have multiple carriers. Photo:China Military

Both of aircraft carriers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy have reportedly moved out from their homeports respectively amid US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s possible visit to the island of Taiwan, which media reported could happen Tuesday evening.

The aircraft carrier Liaoning on Sunday embarked on a voyage from its homeport in Qingdao, East China’s Shandong Province, and the aircraft carrier Shandong on Monday set out from its homeport in Sanya, South China’s Hainan Province, accompanied by a Type 075 amphibious assault ship, media on the island of Taiwan reported on Tuesday.  

Foreign commercial satellite imageries obtained by the Global Times on Tuesday also show that the aircraft carrier Liaoning was not in its homeport on Sunday, a Type 075 amphibious assault ship was sailing in the South China Sea on Sunday, and the aircraft carrier Shandong was sailing in the South China Sea on Monday.

A report by state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) on Monday shows that the Liaoning was sailing at sea when sailors aboard celebrated the Army Day. 

Xu Ying, executive officer of the Shandong, said in a separate CCTV report on Monday that the Shandong was conducting regular training mission at the time.

The PLA will conduct more dual aircraft carrier training in the future, Xu said.

The two aircraft carriers’ activities came at a time when overseas media reported that Pelosi could land in the island of Taiwan on Tuesday evening.

Experts and analysts said that the PLA could send warplanes and warships to escort, intercept and drive away Pelosi’s flight if it indeed attempts to land on the island of Taiwan.

According to the news website of the US Naval Institute the USNI News, the US Navy’s Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier strike group has sailed near the southeast side of Taiwan in the Philippines Sea, with analysts saying that it could provide escort to Pelosi’s flight.

Local media on the island of Taiwan said that the Liaoning could head south and the Shandong could head north, surrounding the island of Taiwan from both directions to deter Pelosi.

It remains unknown if the PLA Navy aircraft carriers’ movements are related to Pelosi, but similar to how the US Navy uses its aircraft carrier to show deterrence, the PLA Navy’s aircraft carriers can also serve that purpose, a Chinese mainland military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Aircraft carriers of the PLA are built to safeguard sovereignty, territorial integrity and national interests, and they will resolutely carry out their missions when duty calls, the expert said.

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