South China Sea: Chinese Air Force carries out training
The Type 003 is being assembled in a Shanghai shipyard just months after the Shandong, China’s second aircraft carrier, became military ready. Multiple outlets run by the Chinese Government say the third ship could be “only a few months” away from being launched.
China Central Television (CCTV) hinted last week the Type 003 will likely be debuted this year.
At the end of a programme showing off Beijing’s arsenal, it showed a model of what appeared to be an aircraft carrier under a red blanket, with the caption “2021, we expect…”.
The Global Times also quoted military expert Song Zhongping, who saId: “2021 is a year full of expectations, including the Type 003 aircraft carrier and also the H-20 bomber.
“It is time for our technological development to bear fruit.”
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Ordnance Industry Science Technology (OIST), another state-run outlet, also noted blocks of the vessel were already identifiable.
Following its expected launch, the outlet noted it would take two years for Type 003 to complete tests and sea trials, as well as being outfitted and having equipment installed.
OIST then suggested the ship would enter naval service by mid-2025 at the latest, and the end of 2024 at the earliest.
They also expect the Type 003 to be able to displace more than 80,000 tonnes, making it over 30,000 tonnes heavier than the Shandong.
Its launch would mark the second aircraft carrier created by China, and its third in its arsenal.
The Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, is a retro-fitted Ukranian ship and entered service in 2012.
The Shandong, China’s first domestically made vessel, was unveiled in 2019, and has been stationed in the South China Sea.
December reports claimed the Shandong sailed through the Taiwan Straits a day after US ships made the passage as it conducted “routine” navigation drills in the disputed.
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Mr Xi recently issued a mobilisation order to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), telling them to be prepared for war “at all times” on January 6.
CCTV claimed around two million PLA soldiers “jumped into action” following the order.
Since then, footage has shown Chinese forces carry out invasion drills near Taiwan using helicopters and explosives.
Mr Song said to the South China Morning Post: “China is indeed facing a great risk of war, which has been seriously implied in this order.”
Recently, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has pleaded with China to “promote meaningful dialogue” and de-escalate tensions in the South China Sea.
She said in a New Year’s Day speech: “I want to reiterate, that when it comes to cross-strait relations we will not advance rashly and will stick to our principles.”
“As long as the Beijing authorities are determined to defuse antagonism and improve cross-strait relations, in line with the principles of reciprocity and dignity, we are willing to jointly promote meaningful dialogue.”
China views Taiwan as a breakaway province, and has denounced Western countries for supporting the nation.
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