China is secretly at work on its second (and first homemade) aircraft carrier in the coastal city of Dalian, according to reports. Construction is expected to be completed in six years, and officials say China will eventually have at least four such carriers. Alongside the new aircraft carrier in Dalian are two advanced missile destroyers, also under construction. The new ships will help bolster the power and reach of the Chinese navy as it seeks to take control of nearby seas and project power farther abroad.The aircraft carrier under construction will be China’s second, joining the Liaoning, which was bought from Ukraine and refurbished in Dalian. “The ability to design and build an aircraft carrier all by ourselves could cut off the reliance on other nations and lay the foundation for the future development of major warships, a navy expert told the Communist Party-run newspaper Global Times. “Undoubtedly, it would promote combat capacity and better protect our interests at sea.”The Liaoning recently completed its first major, long-distance training mission. Escorted by a crew of warships, aircraft, and surveillance vessels, the Liaoning sailed for 37 days through the South China Sea and conducted exercises in waters claimed by Vietnam and the Philippines. Everything “went well as scheduled,” unnamed officials told Xinhua. Early on the mission the Liaoning nearly rammed an American ship, the USS Cowpens, which was forced to take evasive action to avoid a collision, to the frustration of American officials.Slowly but surely, leaf by leaf, a cabbage grows in East Asia. China’s regional military strategy seems to be designed to gradually reinforce Beijing’s hegemony in the East and South China Seas without drawing a physical response from the reigning power in the region, the United States. The weaker states in Southeast Asia, like the Philippines, have few options when confronted with Chinese aggression, except to ask the United States to remain committed to the region. China can’t yet challenge the U.S. Navy but is steadily positioning itself to do so in the future.
A Cabbage Grows in AsiaChina Secretly Building New Aircraft Carrier, Plans More
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