Chinese netizens proud of homemade aircraft carrier, encourage India to follow

By Liu Xuanzun and Guo Yuandan Source:Global Times Published: 2019/12/18 22:22:41

China's second aircraft carrier sails through the Taiwan Straits into the South China Sea on Sunday evening. Photo: screenshot from the Weibo account of the PLA Navy

Chinese netizens were thrilled by the commissioning of the Shandong, China's first domestically developed and second overall aircraft carrier, as they reminded themselves of difficult times in the past and felt proud of the country's achievement.

They also encouraged India, another country striving to build a self-developed carrier, to catch up.

A commissioning ceremony for the Shandong was held on Tuesday in Sanya, South China's Hainan Province, making China the first Asian country to operate an independently developed aircraft carrier after World War II.

The Shandong, a domestically designed and manufactured vessel, has solved problems relating to the overall design, hull construction, and domestic development of the main power equipment, said Cheng Dewei, spokesperson for the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy.

Netizens shared their excitement online, with the hashtag "AircraftCarrierShandong" receiving almost 300 million views on Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like social platform, within a day.

Media reports pointed out that Tuesday coincided with the anniversary of the establishment of the Qing Dynasty's Beiyang Fleet on December 17, 1888. The fleet was wiped out in the First Sino-Japanese War, which was one representation of China being invaded due to its inability to master modern military equipment, analysts said.

Netizens also remembered Liu Huaqing, former vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, who boarded for the first time in his life an aircraft carrier - a US one - 39 years ago, Beijing-based Science and Technology Daily reported.

For confidentiality reasons, the US Navy did not let Liu touch any device on the carrier, so Liu had to stand on tiptoes to get a better view of the US' advanced technologies, a moment coincidentally caught on camera.

Liu devoted the latter half of his life to China's development of an aircraft carrier. "If China does not have an aircraft carrier, I will die with everlasting regret," he said.

Liu died in 2011 and did not see the commissioning of China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, but netizens said Liu could now rest in peace as his wish had been granted with the commissioning of a domestically built carrier.

Netizens also encouraged China's neighboring country India, which is also building a homemade carrier.

Construction of the Vikrant, India's long-delayed first indigenous aircraft carrier, began in 2009 but the ship has not yet entered service. India's Economic Times reported on December 3 that the carrier had just fired up its engines and would be ready for operations by 2022, four years later than planned.

By comparison, the Shandong began construction in 2013 and joined military service only six years later.

India's aircraft carrier program has suffered from many problems including technical issues and structural issues, a military expert who asked not to be named told the Global Times, noting that this is a reflection of the difference in comprehensive national strength.

India lacks an efficient structural organization to coordinate the complicated program and lacks a complete industrial system, while China excels at these aspects, the expert said.

Chinese netizens also wondered why the carrier is named after East China's Shandong Province, with many from other provinces saying the next carrier should use the name of their home province.

Navy spokesperson Cheng said cruisers, amphibious assault ships and larger warships are named after Chinese provinces and municipalities, citing a naval vessel naming regulation. He said the name Shandong was decided based on the province's application and other factors.

Naval expert Li Jie told the Global Times that Shandong is a large costal province and hosts China's first aircraft carrier base, which could be one of the reasons for the name.

Netizens also remembered the Beiyang Fleet, noting that it was established in Shandong.

Posted in: MILITARY

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