Sat, Mar 03, 2018 - Page 5 News List

China ready for larger aircraft carriers: report

Reuters, BEIJING

China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning sails into Hong Kong harbor on July 7 last year.

Photo: Reuters

China is ready to build larger aircraft carriers having mastered the technical ability to do so, a major state-run newspaper said yesterday ahead of the release of the nation’s annual defense budget.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in October pledged to turn China’s military into a world-class fighting force by 2050 and has made new technology development a key policy plank, investing in stealth fighters, aircraft carriers and missiles.

China already has one operational carrier, the second-hand Soviet-era Liaoning bought from Ukraine in 1998, and is carrying out tests on its first indigenously built carrier, launched last year and expected to enter service in 2020.

Liu Zheng (劉征), chairman of Dalian Shipbuilding Industry in Liaoning Province, said his company and its parent, China Shipbuilding Industry Corp, the world’s largest shipbuilder, could design and build carriers.

“We have complete ownership of the expertise, in terms of design, technology, technique, manufacturing and project management, that is needed to make an advanced carrier,” Liu told the official China Daily ahead of Monday’s opening of the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC).

“We are ready to build larger ones,” Zheng said.

China Shipbuilding said earlier this week that they were developing technologies to build a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

Little is known about China’s aircraft carrier program, which is a state secret.

State media has quoted experts as saying that China needs at least six carriers, an endeavor expected to take decades. The US operates 10 carriers and plans to build two more.

China’s navy has been taking an increasingly prominent role over the past year, with its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and new Chinese warships popping up in far-flung places.

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