In a move to modernize the country’s military, China on Friday unveiled its third and most advanced aircraft carrier, Fujian, designed and built entirely within the country, Chinese media said.

Named after the southeastern Chinese province, the type-003 new-generation aircraft carrier left the Jiangnan shipyard in Shanghai after multiple delays, reports said.

According to Chinese media, the aircraft carrier has a complete flight supply and launch system and comes almost 10 years after Beijing commissioned its first aircraft carrier.

Built at the Shanghai Advanced Shipyard, Fujian rivals US Navy carriers in size and capacity, becoming the first non-American carrier to do so. 

A report in Chinese daily Global Times said the carrier has a displacement of more than 80,000 tons and is equipped with electromagnetic catapults and arresting devices.

It is the “first catapult aircraft carrier wholly designed and built by China”, said state broadcaster CCTV.

China already has two other aircraft carriers in service. The Liaoning was commissioned in 2012, and the Shandong entered the service in 2019.

Part of a slogan written on the ship, visible in satellite imagery, has been translated as “to build a strong and modern navy and provide strong support for the realization of the Chinese dream of a strong military”.

The unveiling ceremony was among others attended by Xu Qiliang, a member of the political bureau of the Communist Party of China and vice-chairman of the central military commission, Global Times said.

Ridzwan Rahmat, a Singapore-based analyst with the defense intelligence company Janes, termed it an “important milestone” for the Chinese military.

“This shows that Chinese engineers are now able to indigenously manufacture the full suite of surface combatants associated with modern naval warfare, including corvettes, frigates, destroyers, amphibious assault ships, and now an aircraft carrier,” he was quoted as saying by AP.

The unveiling of the new aircraft carrier comes amid heightened tensions between Beijing and Washington over a range of issues, including US interventions in Chinese Taipei.

Chinese defense minister Wei Fenghe last week explicitly warned that if Taiwan declared independence, China would immediately start the war and would continue to fight until it reaches its goal at any cost.

Let me make this clear: if anyone dares to secede Taiwan from China, we will not hesitate to fight. We will fight at all costs and we will fight to the very end. This is the only choice for China,” he said at the Shangri-la Dialogue, an Asian security summit held in Singapore.

His hard-hitting remarks came weeks after US president Joe Biden warned China over Taiwan.

Tensions between the US and China over Taiwan have dramatically peaked with the US deploying troops in the territory in the past year for training purposes.

Washington approved a $120-million sale of naval equipment to Taiwan earlier this month to boost the island’s “combat readiness” in the face of China’s “frequent activities” near the territory.

The latest deal was the third arms package offered to Taipei this year, and the fourth since US President Joe Biden took office in January 2021.

Beijing, which has repeatedly warned the US against official ties with Taiwan, says the US contacts with Taiwan and the weapon sales to the island are a violation of China’s sovereignty.



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