China holds first live-fire drills with aircraft carrier, warships

China’s military has carried out its first ever live-fire drills using an aircraft carrier and fighters in the northeastern Bohai Sea close to Korea, state media said.

 A live-fire drill using an aircraft carrier is seen carried out in the Bohai sea, China, December 14, 2016. Picture taken December 14, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer
A live-fire drill using an aircraft carrier is seen carried out in the Bohai sea, China, December 14, 2016. Picture taken December 14, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

China’s growing military presence in the disputed South China Sea has fueled concern, with the United States criticizing its militarization of maritime outposts and holding regular air and naval patrols to ensure freedom of navigation.

No other country has claims in China’s busy waterway of the Bohai Sea, but the drills come amid new tension over self-ruled Taiwan, following U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s recent telephone call with the island’s president that upset Beijing.

Ten vessels and 10 aircraft engaged in air-to-air, air-to-sea and sea-to-air combat drills that featured guided missiles, state broadcaster Chinese Central Television reported late on Thursday.

“This is the first time an aircraft carrier squadron has performed drills with live ammunition and real troops,” it said.

China’s Soviet-built Liaoning aircraft carrier and a formation of warships carried out aerial interception, anti-aircraft and anti-missile drills, in which Shenyang J-15 fighter jets carrying live missiles also participated, CCTV said.

It broadcast images of fighter jets taking off from the carrier, firing missiles and destroying a target at sea.

The Liaoning has participated in previous military exercises, including some in the South China Sea, but the country is still years off from perfecting carrier operations similar to those the United States has practiced for decades.

On Wednesday, a U.S. think tank said China had been installing anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems on artificial islands in the South China Sea, prompting China to defend its right to install military hardware there.

China’s exercises aim to test the equipment and troop training levels, an unidentified navy official told the official China News Service.

Last December the Defence Ministry confirmed China was building a second aircraft carrier to go with the existing vessel, but its launch date is unclear.

China keeps its aircraft carrier program a state secret, and CCTV blurred images showing the cockpit instrument panel of one aircraft involved in the Bohai Sea drills.

Beijing could build multiple aircraft carriers over the next 15 years, the Pentagon said in a report last year.

China’s successful operation of the Liaoning is the first step in what state media and some military experts believe will be the deployment of domestically built carriers by 2020.

(Reporting by Christian Shepherd and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence

FG okays loans from World Bank, China, Japan

The Federal Government has approved plans for external loans from the World Bank, China and Japan.

Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun loans

It specifically said Nigeria would take loans from institutions such as the World Bank, African Development Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency, and Export-Import Bank of China, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.

This will include low-cost and long-term loans with interest rates of 1.25 per cent and maturity of 20 years, according to comments posted on its Twitter.

The Federal Government said that details of a proposed Eurobond due later this year would be announced “in due course.”

According to the Presidency, the government is now waiting for lawmakers to approve the plans.

President Muhammadu Buhari had announced a N6.1tn ($19.4bn) spending plan aimed at stimulating the economy this year. The economy contracted in the first two quarters as oil revenue plunged.

Buhari said he expected the Federal Government to raise about $5bn from the Eurobond market and multilateral and bilateral lenders.

The Debt Management Office had last month asked banks to place bids by September 19 if they wished to manage a $1bn Eurobond sale.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, told bond investors in London in June that Nigeria was close to securing about $3bn of funding from the World Bank and African Development Bank.

Nigeria had issued dollar bonds twice, the last time in 2013. Yields on its $500m of securities due in July 2023 fell 11 basis points to 6.24 per cent, their lowest level since June 2015 and down more than 300 basis points since hitting a record 9.4 per cent on January 18, Bloomberg reported.

China, NCS to discuss trade policies

China has opened discussions with the Nigeria Customs Service on the sensitisation of Chinese traders to the service’s import and export laws.

This is aimed at reducing friction between officials of the NCS and the Chinese traders in Nigeria.

The request was made by the Deputy Consulate General, Li Yong, during a courtesy call on the Coordinator of Zone A, NCS, Eporwei Edike.

He said, “We would like an interactive forum between the customs and the People’s Republic of China in Nigeria to enable them to have more knowledge on the customs’ import and export laws and regulations.

“The training will improve the knowledge of Chinese traders in Nigeria of customs import and export laws and regulations.”

Yong, who described the visit as important, said it would enhance the already existing bilateral trade relation between Nigeria and China.

He said the role of the NCS could not be overstated as the country’s economy was experiencing deep adjustment and low growth.

Edike, in his response, thankedYong for the visit and appreciated his effort in seeking for the interactive session.

He said, “This will go a long way in trade facilitation and revenue generation, which is one of the customs’ mandates.

“On the issue of interactive forum, I assure you that your request will be forwarded to the Comptroller General of Customs for permission to organise the session.”