Chinese media downplays naval incident

Chinese armed forced have conducted deep-water drills of their first aircraft carrier. The U.S edition of China Daily proudly reports “Liaoning’s combat capability tested” while a link on the front page of People’s Daily features “Candid shots of the Liaoning aircraft carrier trials in the South China Sea”.

However, both stories ignore the most interesting development during the Liaoning’s maiden voyage: a confrontation with a U.S missile cruiser. The U.S vessel was told to stop while approached the Liaoning; when it continued on its path a Chinese tank-landing vessel blocked the American vessel and forced it to change course.

U.S Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel addressed the incident, saying, “That action by the Chinese, cutting their ship 100 yards out in front of the Cowpens, was not a responsible action. It was unhelpful; it was irresponsible.” 

(Never mind that the U.S navy would probably react the same way if a Chinese vessel approached a U.S aircraft carrier in international waters.)

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has acknowledged the incident. However, it is generally being downplayed in Chinese official media. There is some coverage of the confrontation on the high seas – the military section of People’s Daily quotes Hagel’s commentary on the issue, and features some snippets of media coverage of the incident from outside of China.

One final note: Russia Today quotes a Chinese media source as saying Beijing may build an ultra-modern, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier by 2020.

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