July 19 (UPI) — A U.S. Navy destroyer may have tracked a Chinese aircraft carrier as it returned to its homeport in northern China from Hong Kong, where it was stationed during a 20th anniversary celebration of Hong Kong’s handover to Beijing.
Taiwan’s China Times reported Wednesday the U.S. Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyer launched surveillance operations in the Taiwan Strait, the 100-mile-wide channel of water that separates Taiwan from the mainland.
The Liaoning left Hong Kong on July 11 and returned to Qingdao Port, Shandong Province, on July 16.
According to the Taiwanese newspaper, the first leg of the trip to Hong Kong from the homeport took 30 hours. The return trip, meanwhile, was completed in 24 hours.
“It appears [the Liaoning] sped up because of the tracking of the U.S. forces,” the China Times reported.
The report also stated the U.S. Navy may have additionally deployed a nuclear-powered submarine to collect intelligence.
But the submersible craft steered clear of the Taiwan Strait as the U.S. destroyer began monitoring the Liaoning in the body of water separating Taiwan from China.
A “three-dimensional” level of surveillance was possible because the submarine was mobilized, according to the China Times.
U.S. military vessels rarely enter the Taiwan Strait, but Taiwan’s army could have cooperated with U.S. surveillance because of Taipei’s wariness of China’s growing military power in the region, South Korean newspaper Seoul Shinmun reported.
The Chinese navy is expected to conduct joint drills in the Baltic Sea on Friday, with the Russian navy.
Beijing will deploy its latest guided missile destroyer, the 052D-type destroyer, for the exercises, according to reports.