Correction: China-South China Sea StoryTHE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Beijing (AP) -- In a story Jan. 3 about drills in the South China Sea involving China's Liaoning aircraft carrier, The Associated Press reported erroneously that vessel was commissioned in 2013. It was commissioned in 2012.
The AP also reported that the drills were the Liaoning's first in the South China Sea with a formation of warships and fighter jets. In 2013, before the aircraft carrier was declared combat-ready, it engaged in sea trials with other warships and aircraft in the South China Sea.
A corrected and clarified version of the story is below:
China confirms its carrier held drills in South China Sea
China has confirmed that its aircraft carrier has for the first time conducted drills in the South China Sea with a formation of other warships and fighter jets, a move that could raise concerns among its neighbors
BEIJING (AP) — China confirmed that its aircraft carrier has for the first time conducted drills in the South China Sea with a formation of other warships and fighter jets, a move that could raise concerns among its neighbors.
The Defense Ministry said several J-15 fighter jets took off and landed from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Liaoning on Monday. The Liaoning, China's first and only aircraft carrier, sailed into the South China Sea last week.
The confirmation late Monday came days after Taiwan's Defense Ministry said the carrier and five other warships had passed south of Taiwan. The self-ruled island deployed fighter jets to monitor the fleet.
China calls the drills part of a routine open-sea exercise, but they could add to tensions between Beijing and Taipei. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has refused to endorse Beijing's concept that Taiwan is a part of China. Beijing claims the self-governing island as its own territory and says failing to endorse the one-China principle would destabilize relations.
Purchased as an incomplete hull from Ukraine more than a decade ago, the Liaoning was commissioned in 2012 and in November was declared ready to engage in combat by the ship's political commissar.
In 2013, before the aircraft carrier was declared combat-ready, it engaged in sea trials with other warships and aircraft in the South China Sea.
China hasn't described specifically how it intends to use the Liaoning, but it is seen as helping reinforce China's increasingly assertive claims in the South China Sea in the face of challenges from the U.S. Navy and others.
Tensions have mounted in the South China Sea, where the U.S. and China accuse each other of engaging in a dangerous military buildup. China claims nearly all of the sea and is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons.
China is currently building its second aircraft carrier.