August 10th, 2011
08:32 AM ET

China defends launch of first aircraft carrier

China's first aircraft carrier sailed out of the northeastern port of Dailan for sea trials Wednesday morning, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported.  China has spent nearly a decade refurbishing the 67,000-ton, 300-meter (1,000-foot) ship, begun by the former Soviet Union but never completed.

Xinhua quoted military sources as saying the trials would be brief, and the carrier would return to Dailan for further refits.

China once renounced aircraft carriers as tools of imperialism, but has been developing a blue-water navy in recent years, along with air power to back it up.

It purchased the rusting, gutted shell of the Varyag, the Soviet-begun carrier now under way, from Ukraine in 1998.

Only a handful of other nations operate aircraft carriers - and only the United States, with 11, has more than two in service.

In a opinion piece posted on Xinhua,  the commentator defends the carrier as necessary defensive step and insists China "will never seek hegemony."

"As a matter of fact, it is noteworthy that China was the only permanent UN Security Council member state that did not own an aircraft carrier. In Asia alone, India and Thailand have already owned aircraft carriers," writer  Wei Jianhua said.  "China's need to defend its long coastline and enormous maritime interests is basically behind the country's resolve to develop aircraft carriers.  China has also learnt a lesson from its modern history of humiliation that backwardness leaves one vulnerable to attack."

The US military begs to differ, warning in its annual report to Congress on China's military that the carrier is part of a larger strategy by the People's Liberation Army to extend China's "operational reach" and provides "an enhanced extended range power projection capability and could alter regional balances, disrupting the delicate status quo" in the South China Sea.

But the Pentagon tried to play down today's trial, saying the Chinese are a long way off from utilizing the carrier.

"China has initiated a land-based training program for pilots and carrier aircraft, but it will take several years for the PLA to effectively operate aircraft from a carrier," spokeswoman Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde told CNN.


Post by:
Filed under: China
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Bob

    I say u all leave them alone our nukes would take out majority of what the had if they even launched a single attack on us quit your whining and suck it up. We should not be the one's controlling all the waters near China let them have their space.

    September 8, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Reply
  2. Davethecanuck

    Wouldn't you love to see this headline:
    "Due to increased conflict along the US/Mexico border, China has deployed a carrier fleet to safeguard interests in the area."
    I wonder if I could hear heads exploding at the pentagon from here.

    September 7, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Reply
  3. Gracko

    Satellite photo taken as a subtle reminder of our reconnaissance capability.

    September 7, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Reply
  4. Bill

    A pretty big target for our submarine fleet.

    August 30, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Reply
  5. what the hell??

    Well...cry all you want, China is now on a rool, and it will take loads more than negitive talk to stop them now. We should all be happy to see others grow, not carry on and cry like babies.

    August 12, 2011 at 7:36 am | Reply
  6. ZebulonPi

    Let them have all the aircraft carriers they want. Can they dodge a nuke? No? Not a problem then.

    August 11, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Reply
  7. Jay

    China is already the top superpower. Cease exports to the US, and we're dead in the water.

    August 11, 2011 at 10:57 am | Reply
    • Rycardo are Chinese (false name Jay) and enjoying all the fruits of the West inventions by taking all the mainland JOBS. I agreed with you, cut all the exports that will push our Government to be more protectionist force our companies to move back. I like that idea, be side tell me what invention China is currently working on right now if it is been stolen...

      August 11, 2011 at 11:20 am | Reply
      • Jay

        Nope ... I'm 100% American baby. Doesn't matter if China steals or invents an idea, the only thing that matters is they will have it. The US doesn't need to be protectionist, it needs better trading partners. Sure, China labor is cheap for American businesses ... but, it comes at huge security costs. China will always steal ideas, but they would be 2 or more steps behind - now we're feeding them ideas and teaching them how to realize them before ourselves.

        August 11, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • dimon

      "Cease exports to the US, and we're dead in the water." Yeah, right. 2/3 of chinese made crap is exported to US. Cease export to USA and american companies will move production from China to more friendly, democratic India or back to US shores. China will be dead in the water, again.

      August 11, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Reply
  8. Leon

    The Chinese should aim for a hegemony in the pacific. The way I see it the pacific should be divided in half, they shouldn't allow the American navy such free reign so close to their borders. The Americans wouldn't if it was the other way around.

    August 11, 2011 at 10:29 am | Reply
    • dimon

      I think US should help Japan to build it's own aircraft carriers to counterweight Chinese threat. Also US should sell Taiwan more weapons, including fighters and advanced antiship missiles.

      August 11, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Reply
  9. Naomi

    I think their target is the whole Pacific since they can't have anything in the Arctic. Beware, Americans.

    August 11, 2011 at 9:36 am | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.