Defense expert: China will make Pacific friends to escape US encirclement
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Fujian, launched on Friday from Shanghai’s Jiangnan Shipyard, is China’s first domestically designed and built catapult aircraft carrier. State media reported it is Beijing’s most technically advanced aircraft carrier.
State broadcaster CCTV said Fujian is “first catapult aircraft carrier wholly designed and built by China”.
It will be years before the Fujian reaches operational capacity, and the defence ministry has not announced a date for entry into service.
“Sailing and mooring tests will be carried out as planned after the ship is launched,” CCTV reported.
Currently, China has two other aircraft carrier in service, being the Liaoning, commissioned in 2012, and the Shandong, commissioned in 2019.
As opposed to the Fujian, the existing carriers use a ski-jump-style platform to launch aircraft and do not have a catapult launcher system.
The new system, similar to the ones used by US aircraft carriers, will allow China to launch a wider variety of aircraft from the Fujian faster and with more ammunition.
In addition to the launch system, the Fujian is equipped with blocking devices, and a full-load displacement of more than 80,000 tons, state media outlet Xinhua reported.
They added the ship will carry out mooring tests and navigation tests after the launch.
Matthew Funaiole, senior fellow at the CSIS’s China Project, told CNN previously that the new ship would be the Chinese military’s first modern aircraft carrier.
He told the broadcaster: “This is a pretty significant step forward.
“They’ve really committed to building out a carrier program, and they continue to push the boundaries of what they’re able to do.”
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It comes after Wei Fenghe, Chinese defence minister, warned his US counterpart Beijing would “not hesitate to start a war, no matter the cost” if Taiwan declared independence.
He said: “Those who pursue Taiwanese independence in an attempt to split China will definitely come to no good end.
“No one should ever underestimate the resolve and ability of the Chinese armed forces to safeguard its territorial integrity.
“We will fight at all cost and we will fight to the very end. This is the only choice for China.”
Mr Wei’s comments came a day after Lloyd Austin singled out China as the source of instability in the Indo-Pacific region.
The US Defence Secretary said Washington is “determined” to uphold the status quo of Taiwan, vowing to beef up the island’s self-defence capabilities.
He added: “We will continue to fulfil our commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act… our policy hasn’t changed.
“But unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be true for the PRC. … We’ve witnessed a steady increase in provocative and destabilizing military activity near Taiwan.
“And that includes PLA aircraft flying near Taiwan in record numbers in recent months, and nearly on a daily basis.”
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