China adds to naval force with domestic aircraft carrier

April 26 (UPI) — Analysts in China warned Beijing should be careful not to start a rivalry at sea with a more powerful U.S. Navy, after China launched its first self-built aircraft carrier on Wednesday.

The Type 001A carrier – previously referred to as the Shandong – was sent out to sea from the port city of Dalian in northeastern Liaoning Province, the South China Morning Post reported.

It is the second aircraft carrier in the People’s Liberation Army Navy and its launch was set to coincide with ongoing celebrations of the navy’s 68th anniversary this week.

An earlier launch was postponed because tidal conditions were “not conducive” for a launch to commemorate the navy’s birthday, according to experts.

The carrier’s release was met with patriotic reactions online.

One Internet user wrote, “It’s a symbol of China’s technological power, industrial capability and overall strength.”

A second commenter referred to history and China’s losses to European powers and Japan in the 19th century while saying, “a great country like China has finally got its own big weapon.”

But analysts like Li Jie, who has written about the nuclear-powered Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier, said China has a long way to go before it achieves naval supremacy.

“To some extent, we should recognize that the technological gap in key aircraft carrier technologies between China and the United States is widening, and there is no sign of it narrowing,” Li said, according to the Post.

The U.S. carrier’s commissioning is pending.

China’s latest aircraft carrier includes a ski jump takeoff ramp, similar to its first carrier the Liaoning.

The Chinese navy recently launched a fleet to tour more than 20 countries in the next six months in alignment with Chinese President Xi Jinping‘s “Belt and Road” initiative, an international trade and infrastructure project that will connect China’s coastal regions to Africa, Asia and the Middle East through a maritime route.


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