China Unveils First Aircraft Carrier


China has put its first aircraft carrier into service today – an alleged hint to neighboring countries that their military strength is increasing as tensions rise.

The ship was bought in 1998 from Ukraine and restored by China. Government officials want the vessel to serve as a symbol of the country’s authority, mainly among disputed islands in the East China Sea. However, the carrier will currently only be used for training and testing. China does not have planes capable of landing on the carrier and so far training for such landings have been carried out on land, according to the New York Times.

President Hu Jintao, the Prime Minister, and numerous Chinese military enthusiasts all attended the public launch and stressed the significance of this carrier to China. The ship is expected to boost the overall strength of the Chinese Navy and help China to protect their security and development interests, as well as somewhat force unity in the country.

U.S. military officials have sort of downplayed the ship’s commissioning, and even went on to say they would encourage China to move ahead with building its own aircraft carrier and the ships to escort it, because it would be a waste of money.

That question, however, depends on whether China can develop aircraft to land on an aircraft carrier. In contrast to some of the skepticism, a researcher at the Chinese Naval Research Institute said that the carrier would change the Chinese Navy’s old-fashioned thought process and bring changes to its operational structure.

The Chinese military does not publish an itemization of its spending, but reports say the navy is less funded than the other branches.

View the release from the Ministy of National Defense, The People’s Republic of China HERE.


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