A milestone for China’s 1st aircraft carrier

Source:Global Times Published: 2013-11-27 0:58:01

China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, returned to its homeport on Sept. 21 after a three-month voyage, during which it carried out major and crucial tests.Photo: chinanews.com

Related report: Aircraft carrier sets sail for South China Sea

China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, escorted by two missile destroyers and two frigates, departed from its homeport of Qingdao in Shandong Province for sea trials in the South China Sea on Tuesday.

This was the debut of the Liaoning aircraft carrier battle group, which marked another milestone in the development of aircraft carriers in China though it has not developed full-fledged fighting capacity.

The cross-sea voyage was originally part of normal arrangements but it took place amid frictions between Beijing and Tokyo over China's newly created East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone. It is expected that the Liaoning will come across a variety of coincidents in the future and distorted interpretations in their connection will be unavoidable.

China and its neighboring countries will gradually adapt to the growth of the sole aircraft carrier of China.

It should be noted that the Liaoning is just a precedent of China's aircraft carrier era and therefore can only be viewed as a "test carrier." The US has dispatched two carrier battle groups in the South China Sea since November 22, also creating a "coincidence" with the Liaoning's cruise this time. The capacity of China's aircraft carrier lags far behind that of the two groups from the US and therefore China has an arduous way to go to further develop its fighting capacity.

Beijing has been slow in developing its aircraft carrier. And since China is predicted to undergo a stage of rather complicated geopolitical scenarios in the next 10 years, it will focus on the development of the carrier instead of releasing its deterrence.

Rumor has it from time to time that China is developing its own models of carriers and we hope this is true because our military strength remains weak due to speedy changes in the complex strategic environment, despite our achievements in national defense capacity building.

Given the special geopolitical pressure, Beijing has been confronted with more security challenges than peripheral nations, which is a normal phenomenon for a country viewed as the No.2 power on the world stage.

An aircraft carrier is an important dimension of China's endeavor to consolidate its national defense strength but not all of it. Beijing is supposed to attach equal importance to short-term as well as long-term military development programs because carriers will not become a pillar to safeguard its national strategic security in the foreseeable future.

The experimentation and training mission of the Liaoning may help the rest of the world to understand more about and gradually adjust to the rising Middle Kingdom. Apart from that, the carrier will probably turn out to be a new source of patriotism among the Chinese public.

We should have a thorough understanding of the carrier and the strategic background. We are fully convinced that China's aircraft carrier will definitely be able to safeguard its national security and help maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Posted in: Editorial

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