Reports of a company's successful bid to provide equipment to China's second aircraft carrier, issued via a local government's Weibo account and one newspaper, have been widely seen as the first confirmation that China is going to build a second aircraft carrier.
A wire and cable company in Changzhou, Jiangsu Province, which provided equipment for China's first aircraft carrier, succeeded in its bid to provide equipment for China's second aircraft carrier, according to the Changzhou government's official Sina Weibo account and the Changzhou Evening News on Saturday.
"Shangshang Cable Group, ranked as the number one company of its kind in China and 10th in the world, successfully bid for China's second aircraft carrier and will replace overseas companies in supplying equipment for frigates and submarines," read the report by the Changzhou Evening News. This has been seen as an official confirmation that China's navy is going to be equipped with a second aircraft carrier in addition to the Liaoning, which became operational in 2012 after being bought from Ukraine in 1998.
Li Jie, a naval expert based in Beijing, told the Global Times that it is inaccurate see this announcement as the first official confirmation that a second aircraft carrier will be constructed, since only announcements made by the military can be called "official."
The Sina Weibo post and the Changzhou Evening News report were later taken down. The publicity department and information office of the Changzhou government could not be reached on Sunday while the Changzhou Evening News declined to make any comment.
However, the report published on the Changzhou government's Sina Weibo was widely shared online.
Li said this report unveils certain trends about China's aircraft carrier development. "A regional power needs three aircraft carriers in general, two at least, if it attempts to maintain control of the air and seas," Li noted.
"Only when a country simultaneously readies one carrier for combat, deploys another one for training and the third one for maintenance, can it guarantee that it will have one carrier ready for military operations at all times," Li added.
Yang Yujun, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, said in 2013 that the Liaoning Aircraft Carrier is the first, but would not be the only one operated by China. "In response to maritime affairs, especially in the high seas, one carrier is certainly not enough," Li said, adding that the US is able to deploy two or more Nimitz-class super carriers during violent conflicts. Li Xiaojian, a military expert, said that the new aircraft carrier is probably designed already, as usually this process is completed before tenders are invited.