China has successfully landed a fighter jet on its first air craft carrier, a development that is symbolic of the fears its neighbors have over the world’s most populous country’s military ambitions.
The jet is a domestically-built J-15 fighter. It took off from and landed on a reconditioned Soviet-era aircraft carrier called the Liaoning, reports The Guardian.
The carrier was just commissioned in September. The country’s ruling Communist Party recently elected a new generation of leaders during the 18th Communist party congress in Beijing.
Outgoing President Hu Jintao made a pointed reference during the congress that China’s naval forces need to be strengthened, in order to protect the country’s maritime interests and “win local war.”
China is currently in disputes with the Philippines and Vietnam over islands in the South China Sea, which are believed to be surrounded by waters that are rich in natural gas. The nation is also in a similar dispute with Japan regarding islands in the East China Sea.
Reuters notes that outgoing President Hu stated:
“We should make active planning for the use of military forces in peacetime, expand and intensify military preparedness, and enhance the capability to accomplish a wide range of military tasks, the most important of which is to win local war in an information age.”
China is boosting its military spending by 11.2 percent this year and has repeatedly advertised its long-term military ambitions with shows like this one of new hardware, including the country’s first stealth fighter jet, which was unveiled in 2011.
It has also launched an elite helicopter unit, before it unveiled its first aircraft carrier in September. The successful landing of a fighter jet on China’s first aircraft carrier brings another element of worry to its neighbors and the United States, who have repeatedly called for the country to reveal more about its military plans.