China officially has an aircraft carrier.
The country’s first aircraft carrier, named Liaoning, is an indication of China’s growing military power and could escalate tensions between China and its neighboring countries.
Chinese naval expert, Li Jie, said:
“The aircraft carrier will play an important role in China’s settlement of islands disputes and defense of its maritime rights and interests.”
NBC reports that China’s new aircraft carrier places the country in elite company. Only nine nations currently have carriers.
The commissioning of the ship is a huge display of national prestige, elevating China to the nine-nation club of carrier-equipped navies.
The NY Times reports that the ship was made from a discarded vessel that was brought to China from Ukraine in 1998. It was refurbished at the port of Liaoning and will be used, for the foreseeable future, as a training vessel. China does not have planes capable of landing on the vessel yet, but they have reportedly been working on aircraft carrier landings at a nearby airport.
The aircraft carrier may signify a rising naval power, but some experts believe that the ship will serve no real purpose in China.
You Ji from the National University of Singapore said:
“The fact is the aircraft carrier is useless for the Chinese Navy. If it is used against America, it has no survivability. If it is used against China’s neighbors, it’s a sign of bullying.”
Business Week reports that the United States currently has 11 aircraft carriers on active duty and two more under construction.