China’s first home-built aircraft carrier begins sea trials as Beijing ramps up its maritime might
Posted On July 23, 2020
China’s first home-built aircraft carrier began sea trials on Sunday, a major step for Beijing as it ramps up its military might.
The carrier will be the second to enter the Chinese navy, and comes as Beijing seeks to modernise its armed forces.
The ship, which is known only as "Type 001A", set out for the trials from the north-eastern port of Dalian, where it was built
The trail was to "test the reliability and stability of the carrier’s power system and other equipment," Xinhua news agency said
"Construction on the carrier has been carried out as planned since it was launched in April last year, and equipment debugging, outfitting and mooring tests have been completed to make it ready for the trial mission at sea," it added, citing sources.
Images posted by Chinese media online showed the huge carrier not far from its dock, apparently setting off for trials with smaller vessels.
China’s military has been updated and modernised since Chinese president Xi Jinping assumed power five years ago.
The carrier, which is not expected to enter service until 2020, is the latest milestone in China’s military development, and comes as Beijing is asserting itself in the strategic waters of the South China Sea, and against Taiwan.
Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), said: "This is clearly a landmark development, particularly in demonstrating the ambition and intention of the Chinese Government under Xi Jinping.
"Aircraft carriers are for power projection and for domination, and this is just the first of several more indigenous carriers.
"The world should take notice of Xi’s determination ‘to make China great again’."
The country’s first carrier, the Liaoning, was bought second-hand from Ukraine in 1998, refitted in China, and commissioned in 2012.
Both Chinese aircraft carriers have similar "ski jump" ramps, and closely resemble Soviet style vessels.
They will "not pose major challenges" to the "US domination of the sea lanes", Prof Tsang told The Telegraph.
The US’s 11 vessels are nuclear powered and have far superior technology, including catapult systems for launching aircraft.
Prof Tsang added: "But for the rest of China’s neighbours, the new carrier based doctrine of the People’s Liberation Army is frightening, as none of them can remotely match China’s new naval capabilities."