Despite concerns over its aggressive and disputed growing influence in the South China Sea, China conducted its first live-fire drills off a new aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, Thursday according to their official state media.
The drills come on the heels of an official announcement last month that the Liaoning, purchased as an incomplete hull from Ukraine more than 10 years ago,was ready for combat.
From NBC News:
Dozens of ships and aircraft took part in the exercise "a few days ago" in the Bohai Sea to test weapon performance and training levels, according to a statement posted Thursday on the Defense Ministry's website.
The ship and Chinese jets took part in air-to-air, air-to-sea and sea-to-air exercises that involved guided missiles, state broadcaster Chinese Central Television reported late on Thursday.
They come at a time of heightened tensions over the United States' recent decision to reach out to independent Taiwan via phone call, a move that made Beijing uncomfortable.
The drills also follow news that broke Wednesday out of a U.S. think tank that China "had been installing anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems on artificial islands in the South China Sea."
China is reportedly readying a second carrier, but the launch date has not been made clear.