A Chinese naval flotilla headed into the Pacific over the weekend, evidence that the People’s Liberation Army Navy has done a much better job controlling coronavirus than the US Navy, according to a story posted on the PLA’s English-language website.
The aircraft carrier Liaoning led the group, which included two guided-missile destroyers, two guided-missile frigates and an auxiliary ship, according to the report from state-run tabloid Global Times. It cited Japanese and Taiwanese reports and noted the PLA had not confirmed the operation.
The report said that the Chinese carrier was carrying out this operation while four US Navy aircraft carriers — the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the USS Ronald Reagan, the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Nimitz — have reported cases of coronavirus, crimping their operations.
The Roosevelt, now docked in Guam, has been hit the hardest by the virus, with 585 cases among its crew of more than 4,000 people. Almost all of them have been moved ashore on the island and work is going on to disinfect the ship, delaying its ability to deploy.
The PLA Navy has no such issues, Chinese military experts told the Global Times.
“Through the voyage, the Liaoning showed that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has done a great job in the epidemic prevention and control work and COVID-19 epidemic has not had an impact on its deployment and operations,” the story says, citing Xu Guangyu, a senior adviser to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.
“It showed that the PLA can dispatch troops stationed anywhere at any time, with the troops always maintaining vigorous combat capabilities. The Chinese people can always count on them,” Xu is quoted as saying.
Senior US military officials have strongly pushed back on any notion that the US military is not prepared — even with the Theodore Roosevelt at least sidelined for now. “I don’t want anyone out there in the world to think that somehow the US military’s readiness is significantly degraded. It is not,” said General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.