Gutted, defanged and now up for sale, HMS Invincible could soon be towed to China and berthed in waters the Royal Navy dominated during the opium wars.
A UK-based businessman, Lam Kin-bong, bid ￡5 million (US$7.7 million) for the decommissioned aircraft carrier, which he wants to turn into a floating international school in a marina on the coast of Guangdong Province.
If the bid — first reported in the South China Morning Post — is successful, the voyage would be one of the most dramatic symbols yet of the shift in economic and military power from west to east.
For Britain and China, the differing fortunes are increasingly stark. The UK government has slashed the defense budget and announced the navy would be without an aircraft carrier capable of carrying jets for about 10 years. The Ark Royal will be decommissioned this month.
China has been increasing military spending and is believed to be building its first aircraft carrier, with plans for at least four more over the next 20 years. Reports this week suggest it is close to test-flying a new stealth fighter jet and has operational capability with a “carrier killer” anti-ship ballistic missile.
The Invincible was decommissioned in 2005 after 28 years’ active service in Iraq, Yugoslavia and the Falklands. Stripped of engines, armaments and technology, the 500m hull was put up for auction last month by the Disposal Services Agency.
Its proposed home is in Zhuhai, in the province that was the beachhead for British opium dealers after the trade was forced on China by the Royal Navy.
The British Ministry of Defence has yet to reply to requests for details of rival offers.
The ￡5 million bid by Lam — made through his company Sunway Yacht Ltd, which is based in his birthplace, Zhuhai — is considerably higher than the ￡2 million that had been expected. Towing the vessel to the other side of the world and refurbishing it as a school is likely to cost another ￡6 million.
Whether the deal is approved is another matter, given the EU’s arms embargo against China and Beijing’s past use of second-hand carriers.
In 1998, a Hong Kong firm won a Ukrainian navy auction for the old Soviet carrier Varyag, claiming that it would be used as a floating casino off Macau. Instead, it is being upgraded, fitted with combat sensors and defensive weapons and painted in the colors of the People’s Liberation Army. Military analysts say it is likely to go back into service.
It would be harder to use the Invincible in the same way, as it has been more thoroughly stripped. Lam, who moved to London 20 years ago and has set up the Wing Wah chain of restaurants in Birmingham, said suspicions were unfounded.
“My intentions are purely commercial and have nothing to do with the military,” he told the South China Morning Post.
If permission to tow the vessel to China is withheld, Lam said he would dock it in Liverpool and turn it into a school.
THE ANSWER? The drug uses neutralizing antibodies produced by the human immune system, which the team isolated from the blood of 60 recovered patients A Chinese laboratory has been developing a drug it believes has the power to bring the COVID-19 pandemic to a halt. A drug being tested by scientists at Peking University could not only shorten the recovery time for those infected, but even offer short-term immunity from the coronavirus, researchers said. Sunney Xie (謝曉亮), director of the university’s Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Genomics, said that the drug had been successful in animal testing. “When we injected neutralizing antibodies into infected mice, after five days the viral load was reduced by a factor of 2,500,” Xie said. “That means this potential drug has [a]
‘SERIOUS QUESTIONS’: Three US senators sent a letter to the US commerce secretary asking whether the project ‘takes into consideration national security requirements’ US Senator Chuck Schumer and two other Democratic colleagues have written to top US administration officials asking for details of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd’s (TSMC) plan to build a US$12 billion fab in Arizona. Hsinchu-based TSMC on Thursday last week announced that it would build a plant to make 5 nanometer chips by 2024 that would have the capacity to produce 20,000 semiconductor wafers per month. The world’s biggest contract chipmaker already has one chipmaking fab in Camas, Washington, and design centers in Austin, Texas, and San Jose, California. It said it planned to start construction in Arizona next year and
MOM’S LONG CAMPAIGN: Mao Yin had been brought up in Mianyang, Sichuan Province, without any idea that he was the target of a decades-long, high-profile search A Chinese man who was stolen from his family as a toddler has been reunited with his parents after 32 years. Mao Yin (毛寅), then two-and-a-half years old, was snatched in 1988 when he was walking home from nursery with his father. His parents finally embraced him again on Monday in Xian, where he was born. After Mao vanished, his mother Li Jingzhi (李靜芝) quit her job and launched a decades-long search for her son, that included sending out more than 100,000 flyers and appearing on numerous TV shows. That long campaign helped 29 other families find their own missing children and made
VULNERABLE: Many women do not report sexual harassment by their landlord over fears they could lose the roof over their head, an expert said A growing number of landlords are asking tenants for sex in exchange for housing as COVID-19 lockdowns and job cuts have left many struggling to pay their rent, housing experts said. A survey by the National Fair Housing Alliance of more than 100 fair housing groups combating discrimination across the US found that 13 percent had seen an increase in sexual harassment complaints during the pandemic. “If I did not have sex with him, he was going to put me out,” one woman facing eviction by her property manager told the alliance in an podcast on its Web site. “As a single