Permanent base of China's first aircraft carrier in Qingdao
BEIJING (AP) - China's first aircraft carrier is headed for its permanent base in the northern port of Qingdao, where it will be responsible for operations in waters surrounding Japan and the Korean Peninsula, reports said on Wednesday.
Speculation has swirled over where the ship, christened the Liaoning, would call home since it officially entered service on Sept 25 amid a series of maritime disputes between China and its neighbours, particularly Japan, with which it is engaged in a tense standoff over disputed islands in the East China Sea.
Qingdao is home to China's Northern Fleet, which is responsible for operations in the Yellow Sea, the Sea of Japan, and parts of the East China Sea, as well as the Bohai Gulf, about 150km from Beijing.
The Global Times newspaper reported that the carrier left its temporary base in the north-eastern port of Dalian on Tuesday for the first sea trials of the year following a three-month refitting. The paper, published by the ruling Communist Party's flagship People's Daily, said the ship would end the cruise by formally taking up residency in Qingdao, but gave no date for its arrival.