Published: Sun, May 07, 2017
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

China Launches First Domestically built Aircraft Carrier

China Launches First Domestically built Aircraft Carrier

Chinese state media has quoted experts as saying that the country needs at least six carriers, and a network of bases around the world to support their operations, though the government has been coy about suggestions it wants a global military presence to match the United States.

The aircraft carrier program lies at the heart of China's effort to build a " blue water" navy capable of projecting power beyond the country's coast and protecting increasingly far-flung interests. It will reportedly be operational by 2020.

The launch comes amid China's assertiveness in the South China Sea.

"Next, the aircraft carrier will debug its system devices and conduct fitting-out as planned, and start mooring tests", China's military said in a statement.

The US has deployed warships and a submarine to the Korean peninsula, prompting an angry reaction from North Korea whereas China has urged calm.

Geng told reporters at a daily news conference: "The objective to develop national defense forces including the navy is to safeguard our national sovereignty, security and development interests, as well as the peace of the world". The second carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, is about two years behind it in construction.

India now has only one active aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, which was purchased second hand from Russian Federation and refurbished.

The possession of a native aircraft carrier places China among the few military powers with such vessels, including the US, Russia, and the UK.

Neither of the Chinese carriers are nuclear powered as all American carriers now are.

The Type 001A vessel, yet to be named, is China's second aircraft carrier.

The China Daily called the ship "the largest and most sophisticated surface vessel China has ever built".

Roggeveen said the new carrier would boost China's naval capabilities, particularly in the South China Sea, but was based on outdated technology.

But China has been modernising its armed forces recently as its economy expands. The U.S. Navy has 323,000 personnel to China's 235,000.

In March, China announced it would increase its military budget by about 7% this year - the second year in a row that increases have been less than 10%, after almost 20 years of larger increases.

US President Donald Trump has also proposed a 10% increase in the military budget.

The ship's construction "shows our country's indigenous aircraft carrier design and construction has achieved major step-by-step results", the official Xinhua news agency said.

The launch ceremony of the aircraft carrier was hosted by Fan Changlong, a vice chairman of China's powerful Central Military Commission.

"Under this new environment, China has ample reason to raise its own national defense capability to effectively protect its fair rights that are increasingly extending overseas", Wang said in response to a question on the new carrier, according to a statement on the ministry's website on Thursday.

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