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China set for sea trials of its first carrier

According to reports the warship is being built in the northeastern port city of Dalian.

News18test sharma |

Updated:June 8, 2011, 1:44 PM IST
China set for sea trials of its first carrier
According to reports the warship is being built in the northeastern port city of Dalian.

London: A top Chinese General has confirmed that Beijing is building an aircraft carrier which could be ready for sea trials later in 2011. General Chen Bingde, Chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army said that a Soviet carrier is being refurbished, marking the first acknowledgment of the warship's existence from China's secretive military.

"It is being built, but it has not yet been completed", BBC reported quoting the Chinese General as saying in an interview to the Hong Kong's 'Commercial Daily'.

The General refused to elaborate, but the Hong Kong daily reported that the warship, presently being built in the northeastern port city of Dalian was nearly finished and could be launched by June end.

BBC said the Chinese were working to refurbish a Ukraine built carrier called 'Varyag' reportedly purchased as scrap in 1988.

But the BBC reported from Beijing that it does not imply that the carrier will be ready to undertake operational duties. "Chinese military would have to build carrier based fighters and learn how to fly planes off it".

Another top PLA General Qi Jianguo, assistant chief of the general staff, told the Hong Kong paper that even after the carrier was deployed, it would "definitely not sail to other country's territorial waters" in accordance with Beijing's defensive military strategy.

"All of the great nations in the world own aircraft carriers - they are symbols of a great nation", the General was quoted as saying.

China is engaged in a protracted maritime border dispute with neighbouring nations, but Qi said Beijing had always followed a defensive principle for its military strategy.

In an apparent reference to brewing dispute in the South China sea, the General said, "It would have been better for us if we acted sooner in understanding the oceans and mapping out our blue-water capabilities earlier".

"We are now facing heavy pressure in the oceans whether in the South China Sea, East China Sea, Yellow Sea or the Taiwan Straits", he said.

In another first, General Chen said that citizens of Hong Kong, the former British colony, could join the PLA.

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