Bloomberg News

China’s Soviet-Era Aircraft Carrier Sets Sail for More Testing

December 01, 2011

Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) -- China’s rebuilt Soviet-era aircraft carrier set sail for its second sea trials, the defense ministry said, as the U.S. and China look to bolster their influence in regional waters.

The carrier finished refitting and testing after its first sea trial in August, and will conduct “scientific research and experiments,” the Ministry of National Defense said in a statement yesterday. The naval fleet of the People’s Liberation Army was conducting routine training at the end of the month, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Nov. 23.

The aircraft carrier is part of the country’s efforts to expand its naval presence. The U.S. is also looking to exert greater influence in the Asia-Pacific region and announced earlier this month it would station as many as 2,500 marines in Australia to boost security in sea lanes vital for trade.

The carrier was still unfinished when Ukraine sold it to China in the late 1990s. Earlier this year, U.S. Navy Admiral Robert Willard said China’s reconstruction of the carrier is raising alarm in the region where it is seen as a sign of the Asian nation’s military expansion, though it is not a concern for the U.S.

The U.S., which has patrolled Asia-Pacific waters since World War II, has defense treaties with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Thailand, and guarantees Taiwan’s security. China has bolstered its forces over the past decade and has procured nuclear-powered submarines, according to a U.S. Defense Department report.

China plans to add 30 subs through 2020 out of 86 likely to be built for the region’s fleets, according to defense researcher IHS Jane’s.

--Zheng Lifei. Editor: Nicholas Wadhams

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Zheng Lifei in Beijing at lzheng32@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net


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