A J-10 during training. (Photo/CNS)
A spokesman for China's defense ministry has refused to comment on reports that fighter aircraft have been dispatched to Fujian province in preparation for conflict over the disputed Diaoyutai (Senkaku or Diaoyu) islands in the East China Sea.
Geng Yansheng said at a routine press conference on Thursday that he could not answer a reporter's question on the reports since it was related to military deployment. Duowei News, an outlet operated by overseas Chinese, said the fighters could reach the disputed islands from Fujian on China's southeast coast within 12 minutes. The jets are said to be J-10 fighters deployed at a base around 380km from the islands and 320km from Taiwan, according to the Toronto-based Kanwa Information Center, which reports on diplomatic and defense news related to Asia.
China has also reportedly sent a 3,000-tonne marine surveillance ship to the waters around the disputed islands, which was spotted by the Japanese coast guard in the area around 2 pm on Thursday. The coast guard of Naha city, Okinawa, has continued to warn and track the ship, according to national Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun.
Regarding a Wall Street Journal report which suggested the operations of China's first aircraft carrier Liaoning has imitated the hardware and procedures of US naval aviation training, Geng said China has the ability to build its own aircraft carriers and observers should not read too much into the development of China's national defense and military modernization, according to our Chinese-language sister paper Want Daily.
"Military developments around the world show that the theories behind much weaponry, equipment, defense and command forms are similar. It would be a malicious attack or at least unprofessional to simply judge that the Chinese military "copies" other countries' aircraft carrier technologies," said Geng.
The spokesman declined to reveal however whether a China-made aircraft carrier is in the pipeline follwoing reports that China State Shipbuilding Corporation is gearing up to build a carrier from scratch. The Liaoning is a refitted Soviet-era carrier purchased from Ukraine.
As for when the Liaoning will be able to actively deploy J-15 fighter aircraft or when will it test tactical early-warning aircraft or tanker aircraft, Geng said only that J-15 aircraft have undergone scheduled trainings and tests.
Geng Yansheng 耿雁生