News / Asia

    China's First Aircraft Carrier Begins Sea Trial

    Workers are seen on the flight deck of the China's first aircraft carrier, former 'Varyag' of Ukraine, which is under restoration at a shipyard in Dalian in northeastern China's Liaoning province, July 27, 2011
    Workers are seen on the flight deck of the China's first aircraft carrier, former 'Varyag' of Ukraine, which is under restoration at a shipyard in Dalian in northeastern China's Liaoning province, July 27, 2011

    China's first aircraft carrier set sail for the first time Wednesday, steaming out of the northeastern port of Dalian for a long-awaited sea trial. While the voyage of the ship, known here by its Russian name Varyag, is a source of national pride, it is also raising concerns among China's neighbors.

    In the late 1990s, China purchased the empty shell of the aircraft carrier from Ukraine. The vessel was built by the Soviet Union in the 1980s but ownership was transferred to Ukraine after the former communist government collapsed.

    Since then, it has been the source of much speculation and discussion in military circles and highly anticipated by military enthusiasts in China.

    For the past few weeks, Chinese state television and online military news websites have been following the ship's preparations on a daily basis.

    It became clear the voyage was close at hand when China's Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng spoke publicly about the ship for the first time late last month.

    At a routine monthly news conference, Geng confirmed China's plans to build a small number of aircraft carriers and offered assurances that Beijing's intentions are peaceful.

    "China will stick to the path of peaceful development and its independent foreign policy of peace together with the country's national defense policy," said Geng. "We have a long coastline and spacious sea areas under our jurisdiction. It is the responsibility of China's armed forces to protect the territorial sea and preserve sea sovereignty and maritime rights.”

    Geng said China is gathering opinions from many places to further the development of the aircraft carrier. He said the Varyag would be used for military training and scientific research.

    A defense Ministry statement Wednesday said the carrier will soon return to harbor for continued refitting and test work.

    Chinese officials have tried to downplay the significance of the carrier, but the ship has become a symbol of China's rising military power at a time of tension with several of its neighbors over competing maritime claims in the East and South China seas.

    Arthur Ding, a China military analyst at Taiwan's National Chengchi University says the sea trip is just a preliminary trial.

    “It's only I would say for the test to see if the whole structure of the ship is in good situation or not," said Ding. "It's not an operational test so I would say it's more on the psychological effect or [for what] we call domestic consumption.”

    With many in China anxiously anticipating the launch of an aircraft carrier program, Ding says the trial will help to satisfy the public's desire to see the country meeting that milestone. Chinese state media frequently mention that China is the only member of the United Nations Security Council that does not have an aircraft carrier.

    Ding adds that it is not surprising that Chinese officials are playing down the trial run for fear of alienating other countries in the region.

    “I think China they know it's better for them to keep a low profile, so we need to see how the neighboring countries perceive that, but there no doubt that in the long term everybody expects that China has ambition to be a blue water navy, but it will take a tremendous time yet.”

    Military analysts in China say it could take several more years to have the carrier fully operational and more than two decades to build an aircraft carrier program.

    Most military analysts and commentators in China say the country eventually will need at least three aircraft carriers - one to continually be at sea, another in port for repairs and a third for training.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora