This should come as a shock…to just about no one:
A top Chinese military official has confirmed that Beijing is building an aircraft carrier, marking the first acknowledgement of the ship’s existence from China’s secretive armed forces.
Qi Jianguo, assistant to the chief of the PLA’s general staff, told the newspaper that the carrier would not enter other nations’ territories, in accordance with Beijing’s defensive military strategy.
“All of the great nations in the world own aircraft carriers – they are symbols of a great nation,” he was quoted as saying.
Of course, the Chinese carrier will primarily be used for “training and as a model for a future indigenously-built ship.” If the sister ship Admiral Kuznetsov is any indication, the former Varyag will not be a particularly reliable platform for power projection abroad – Kuznetsov has been at sea for approximately 12 months in total since the year 2000. Along a similar tack as the Chinese, Kuznetsov has remained operational primarily “to preserve its school of deck aircraft pilots.”
Still, any kind of operational Chinese naval aviation platform is an interesting development, even if it has been a long time coming. But for real blue-water capabilities, the world will almost certainly have to wait for China to produce its first domestic carrier.
*It has come to my attention that the Defense News article is actually dated June 8, so not exactly today, per se. Blame Google Reader, I suppose.