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China's 1st aircraft carrier heads for Western Pacific

FILE - In this undated file photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, China's aircraft carrier Liaoning berths in a port of China. China's military says its first aircraft carrier group has carried out a series of fighter launch, recovery and air combat exercises in the Yellow Sea amid tensions with the U.S. and Taiwan. The Defense Ministry announced late Friday that the Liaoning carrier group conducted the drills in the Yellow Sea in recent days and is scheduled to continue exercises farther afield. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Li Tang, File)

FILE - In this undated file photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, China's aircraft carrier Liaoning berths in a port of China. China's military says its first aircraft carrier group has carried out a series of fighter launch, recovery and air combat exercises in the Yellow Sea amid tensions with the U.S. and Taiwan. The Defense Ministry announced late Friday that the Liaoning carrier group conducted the drills in the Yellow Sea in recent days and is scheduled to continue exercises farther afield. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Li Tang, File)  (The Associated Press)

China's Defense Ministry says the country's first aircraft carrier has set off for the Western Pacific for an open-sea training exercise.

State media say it is the first time that the Liaoning, which was commissioned by the Chinese navy in 2012, has headed to "distant sea waters." The Western Pacific stretches from China to New Zealand and encompasses countries in the Pacific, Oceania and parts of Asia.

The statement said a navy formation including the Liaoning set off Saturday for training "in distant sea waters" as part of an annual training plan.

The Liaoning carried out training in the East China Sea on Saturday, according to footage shown on state broadcaster China Central Television.

The carrier recently carried out its first live-fire exercise.