Chinese navy sails through Miyako Strait, conducts more drills in Western Pacific
A file photograph of China's Liaoning aircraft carrier with accompanying fleet conducting a drill in an area of South China Sea. Reuters

The Chinese navy again sailed through the Miyako Strait that lies between two Japanese islands and carried out military drills in the Western Pacific, state news agency Xinhua said. In recent months, China's navy and air force have carried out a series of exercises in the Pacific. Analysts believe that this is a step to sharpen their ability to operate far from their home shores.

In a report late on Thursday, Xinhua said the drills involved "exercises in communication, fleet formation changes, joint search-and-rescue operation and joint anti-piracy operation".

Chen Denan, chief of staff of the Chinese fleet, said the military drills are aimed at improving training and emergency response capabilities far out at sea.

"The drills are about enhancing communication and mutual trust, conveying a message of peace and friendship, and helping the fleet adapt to the demands of diversified military tasks," Denan told Xinhua.

The Miyako Strait is a body of water between Japan's islands of Miyako and Okinawa. It is located to the north-east of self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own.

China's navy has been taking an increasingly prominent role, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around and new warships appearing in far-flung places.

This week, China launched its second aircraft carrier, and the first domestically developed one amid rising tension over North Korea's missile threats and Beijing's claim over the disputed South China Sea. However, it is not expected to enter service until about 2020.

China foriegn minister Wang Yi said that "China has ample reason to raise its own national defence capability to effectively protect its fair rights that are increasingly extending overseas."

According to the minister, strengthening military would also help to "safeguard international and regional peace".

Though China never gives out many details about its military, the government has said that the new carrier is inspired from the first carrier, the Liaoning, which was bought from Ukraine in 1998.