China needs to speed development of an aircraft carrier after India’s launch of its first such vessel offered a reminder of the ship’s strategic importance, the state-run Global Times newspaper said.
India’s unveiling on Monday of its first homegrown carrier, the Vikrant, provides a “stimulus” to China’s own efforts, the newspaper said in an editorial.
“China should speed up its construction of domestic aircraft carriers,” it said. “The earlier China establishes its own aircraft carrier capabilities, the earlier it will gain the strategic initiative.”
The Chinese call and the Vikrant’s unveiling reflect a push among Asian nations to beef up maritime forces as they jockey for influence in a region rich in natural resources. Defense budgets in China and Japan are growing, while the Philippines, locked in a territorial dispute with China, is buying new ships and helicopters, and negotiating a closer military relationship with the US.
The strategic deterrence provided by aircraft carriers is significant, the Global Times said. The world’s large powers have adjusted their China strategies based on estimates of its military strength, it said.
China’s first aircraft carrier, built from an incomplete Ukrainian hull and dubbed the Liaoning, began sea drills this year. Song Xue (宋學), deputy chief of staff of China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy, said in April that the country’s next carrier will be larger and transport more fighters.
China warned Asian neighbors to be wary of a Japanese military buildup after Tokyo unveiled a helicopter warship this month.