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Defence & Aerospace

The mystery of China’s homegrown aircraft carriers


Recently, we had quite an interesting story about China’s homegrown aircraft carrier.

On September 27 when a reporter asked Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun about the report that China was building its second aircraft carrier in Shanghai, Yang replied that the report was not accurate.

However, Yang did not mention where the report was inaccurate. Is it inaccurate because the second aircraft carrier is not built in Shanghai but in another place? Or is it inaccurate because what China is building in Shanghai is not China’ second but China’s third or fourth aircraft carrier?

China’s homegrown aircraft carriers remain a mystery.

However, we are sure that China is building, and will build, more aircraft carriers, because according to the annual report of the State Oceanic Administration (SOA), China’s State Council made a decision in 2003 that China should become a maritime superpower.

That was confirmed by China’s Ocean Development Report, which said in 2010 that China had the idea, and made a plan, for building aircraft carriers in order to become a maritime superpower.

In fact China became interested in aircraft carriers long ago in the late 1970s, but at that time China was too poor to get one. In spite of that, it bought the Australian aircraft carrier the HMAS Melbourne in 1984 and dismantled it after studying it.

Later, it purchased from Russia the Kiev and the Minsk respectively in 1993 and 1995 and turned them into theme parks after studying them.

When China purchased Varyag in 1998, it was already quite clear that it might refit it as it bought not only the hull but also the blueprints. That was why China encountered such great difficulty in bringing the hull out of the Black Sea.

In 2010, PLA sources revealed that China planned to build four aircraft carriers similar to the Varyag by 2020. That was certainly true as China had received the blueprints for such carriers.

However, I do not think China wants so many carriers urgently. For resolving disputes in the East and South China Seas, one existing carrier, the refitted and renamed Varyag, the Liaoning, is quite enough as long as it can function normally.

On the other hand, China perhaps has changed its mind. For protection of its interests within the Yellow Sea and East and South China Seas, three Varyag-type carriers are quite enough.

However, in order to protect its shipping lines, it needs nuclear aircraft carriers; therefore, when China has built two homegrown conventional carriers, it has to wait until it has mastered the technology for building its own nuclear carriers.

China has the habit to keep its weapons development secret. However a large ship like an aircraft carrier has to be built in the open. As satellite photographs are available on the market, people can easily get photographs to check whether any carrier is being built in China.

For me, it is not necessary as I am sure China will build two more conventional carriers and the construction will not be carried out in earnest until China has carried out sufficient tests of the Liaoning to see whether such type of carrier is satisfactory and what improvement should be made in its design.

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About chankaiyee2

Author of the book "Tiananmen's Tremendous Achievements" about how with the help of Tiananmen Protests, talented scholars with moral integrity seized power in the Party and state and brought prosperity to China. The second edition of the book will be published within a few days to mark the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Protests All the parts in the first edition remain in the second edition with a few changes due to information available later and better understanding. There are also some changes for improvements of style. The new parts are Chapters 12-19 on events in China after the first edition was published: The fierce power struggle for succession between reformists and conservatives; Xi Jinping winning all elders’ support during his mysterious disappearance for 2 weeks in early September, 2012; and Xi Jinping Cyclone. Chan Kai Yee's new book: SPACE ERA STRATEGY: The Way China Beats The US An eye-opening book that tells the truth how the US is losing to China. The US is losing as it adopts the outdated strategy of Air-Sea Battle while China adopts the space era strategy to pursue integrated space and air capabilities: It is losing due to its diplomacy that has given rise to Russian-Chinese alliance. US outdated strategy has enabled China to catch up and surpass the US in key weapons: Hypersonic weapons (HGV) that Pentagon regards as the weapon that will dominate the world in the future. Aerospaceplane in China’s development of space-air bomber that can engage enemy anywhere in the world within an hour and destroy an entire aircraft carrier battle group within minutes. Anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons, anti-ASAT weapons, stealth aircrafts, drones, AEW&C, etc. The book gives detailed descriptions of China’s weapon development based on information mainly from Chinese sources that the author monitors closely. U.S. Must Not Be Beaten by China! China is not a democracy. Its political system cannot prevent the emergence of a despotic leader or stop such a leader when he begins to bring disasters to people. A few decades ago, Mao Zedong, the worst tyrant in world history did emerge and bring disasters to Chinese people. He wanted to fight a nuclear war to replace capitalism with communism but could not bring nuclear holocaust to world people as China was too weak and poor at that time. If a despot like Mao Zedong emerges when China has surpassed the US in military strength, world people will suffer the misery experienced by Chinese people in Mao era. China surpassing the US in GDP is not something to worry about as China has the heavy burden to satisfy its huge population, but China surpassing the US in military strength will be world people’s greatest concern if China remains an autocracy. US people are of much better quality than Chinese people. What they lack is a wise leader to adopt the correct strategy and diplomacy and the creative ways to use its resources in developing its military capabilities. I hope that with the emergence of a great leader, the US can put an end to its decline and remain number one in the world. China, US, space era strategy, air-sea battle, space-air bomber, arms race, weapon development, chan kai yee

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