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China mum on new airbase, sea trials

2012/06/01 22:08:50

Taipei, June 1 (CNA) Chinese authorities have refused to confirm or deny reports that its jet fighters can take off from a newmilitary airbase in coastal Fujian Province in southeastern China andreach the disputed Tiaoyutai Islands in just 12 minutes.

"This kind of question involves military deployments and it wouldbe inappropriate for me to answer such a question," Ministry of Defensespokesman Yang Yujun said Thursday.

He was responding to questions about the recently completedShuimen airbase, situated on a hilltop in Fujian's Shuimen Township.

According to some reports, the hilly land in the region was originally not suitable for construction of an airbase. China decidednonetheless to build the base to reinforce its sovereignty claims over the Tiaoyutai Islands and the Chunxiao undersea oil and natural gas field in the East China Sea.

The Tiaoyutai Islands, located about 100 nautical miles off Taiwan'snortheastern tip, are claimed by Taiwan, China and Japan. The island group is known as the Diaoyutai Islands in China and the Senkaku Islands in Japan.

Meanwhile, addressing international media reports that China will buildmore aircraft carriers and that many countries in the area are worried they will affect regional and sea navigation safety, Yang dismissed them as "speculation and guesswork."

However, he added that China's relevant agencies will make an overall consideration and seriously study the development of aircraft carriers."

China's first aircraft carrier, the "Varyag" -- a revamped Soviet Union-era ship bought from Ukraine in 1998 -- embarked on its seventh sea trialMay 23.

Yang said that since its first sea trial in August 2011, the carrier has undergone a series of sea trials and will later have a series of scientific tests in accordance with the plan, which he described as "normal and necessary."

He declined to answer questions about the progress of the sea trials.

(By Charles Kang and Lilian Wu)