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March 11, 2012

China starts testing its first aircraft carrier

Tom Chapman | The Upcoming

China’s new aircraft carrier has begun its first sea trials. The carrier was originally left for scrap but was later bought by a company with ties to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Military sources were quoted as saying that the trial “would not take a long time.”

The carrier left its shipyard at Dalian Port in Liaoning Province on Wednesday morning.

The vessel is a refitted former Soviet warship and is around 300 metres long. Not built by China, it was constructed in the 1980s for the USSR but was never completed. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the carrier (previously called Varyag) sat abandoned in Ukraine.

This move is likely to raise concerns over China’s rapid military build-up.

The PLA is about 20 years behind America’s army, but they are building up their forces, heavily investing in submarines and new technologies.

A Japanese defence study expressed concern over China’s military ambitions.

Last year, China had several maritime territorial disputes with Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Beijing was quick to downplay the capabilities of the carrier however, saying that it would be used primarily for training and research.
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