China maintains defense spending to narrow gap with adversaries

6:32:00 AM
BEIJING, -- China is silently working to produce its second aircraft carrier, it has emerged after reports that a contractor had been commissioned to take part in the project leaked onto the internet and were swiftly deleted.

Officials in the eastern city of Changzhou took to social media on Sunday to boast that a local company called Jiangsu Shangshang Cable Group had been awarded the contract to supply the vessel’s cabling.

The city’s Changzhou Evening News also reported on the firm’s success although both reports were quickly purged.

It is an open secret that Beijing is working to grow its fleet of aircraft carriers as it looks to project Chinese might across the oceans by building a powerful “blue water navy”.

"China should have a military that can match its power status,” Ma Gang, a professor at the People's Liberation Army National Defense University, told Chinese media last year, pointing out that country faced “serious challenges to its sovereignty and several territorial disputes”.

Tellingly, the state-run Global Times newspaper noted in a recent article that, “although Chinese authorities have never openly confirmed whether [construction of] a homemade carrier is underway, they have also never denied it”.

Still, specific details of Beijing’s blueprint for maritime dominance remain, like much in Communist China, cloaked in secrecy.
China was planning at least four aircraft carriers, a senior Communist Party leader let slip in January last year.

Wang Min, the party chief of Liaoning province where the second carrier is believed to be under construction, said its delivery was expected by 2020. Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post last year predicted it could be ready by 2018.

Beijing’s first aircraft carrier, a 990ft former Soviet vessel called the Liaoning, was retrofitted in China and brought into service in 2012.

The Liaoning took to the high seas as Xi Jinping assumed control of China’s Communist Party and began taking an increasingly forceful stance on territorial disputes with countries such as Japan and the Philippines in the East and South China Seas.

The latest signals of Beijing’s determination to strengthen its navy will alarm leaders in those countries.

Last week, Albert del Rosario, the foreign minister of the Philippines, urged the international community to stand up to what he described as China's growing encroachment into the South China Sea following reports that Beijing was building artificial islands as a way of trying to assert control over disputed waters.
World leaders had to “say to China that what it is doing is wrong,” Mr del Rosario said.

However, as the world’s second largest economy China was “entitled” to expand its fleet of aircraft carriers, the Global Times argued.

“China's pursuit of an aircraft carrier is intended to deal with provocations, not to threaten anyone else,” the nationalist tabloid claimed.


People's Liberation Army Navy first aircraft carrier Liaoning CV 16 latest set of Sea Trials.


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