Published: Sun, May 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

China's first home-built aircraft carrier begins sea trials

China's first home-built aircraft carrier begins sea trials

"Our country's second aircraft carrier set sail from its dock in the Dalian shipyard for relevant waters to conduct a sea trial mission, mainly to inspect and verify the reliability and stability of mechanical systems and other equipment", Xinhua said.

Footage aired by CCTV showed the imposing carrier accompanied by several smaller military craft leaving a wharf and heading out to sea.

The completely home-grown aircraft carrier has departed for sea trials on Sunday morning, state-run China Daily said in a brief report.

Expected to be commissioned by 2020, the ship will give China a second aircraft carrier as it asserts its claims in the South China Sea and seeks to deter any independence movements in Taiwan.

The carrier was launched - moved into the water - in April previous year, the China Daily reported.

Though Liaoning has become operational, it is being mostly used for research and improvements for the new carriers China plans to build.

China's warships will enable it to "project its power and influence in its neighbourhood", Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), told AFP.

Most experts agree that developing such a force will be a decades-long endeavor for China, but progress on the home-built carrier holds a certain prestige value for Beijing, seen by many analysts as keen to eventually erode United States military prominence in the region.

Although China's 2-million strong military is the largest in the world and its navy is also the biggest in terms of numbers of ships, its defense budget in 2018, though raised, is still only about one-quarter that of the United States.

However it would still be no match in size or variety to the nuclear-powered vessels of the United States Navy, which has 11 providers.

The still-unnamed carrier was launched this time past year but since then has been undergoing fitting of weapons and other systems and has not yet entered service, Reuters reported.

Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for the creation of a "first-class navy" at a major naval review held in the South China Sea.

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