China launches home-made aircraft carrier with Taiwan-provoking name

Fujian will carry out mooring tests and navigation tests after the launch, state media said.

The ship’s launch was initially expected on April 23 for the PLAN’s 73rd anniversary but was postponed at least twice due to strict Covid-19 lockdowns in Shanghai.

Xi Jinping, China’s president, has made the military’s modernization one of his priorities. In the decade he has been in power, China has doubled down on sweeping territorial claims in the South China Sea and expanded its presence into the Indian Ocean and beyond.

It set up its first overseas base, in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa in 2017. Earlier this year, Beijing signed a security agreement with the Solomon Islands, stoking fears among some nations that it would gain an outpost in the South Pacific. China is also reportedly building a naval military base in Cambodia.

The US Department of Defense said in a report to Congress last year that the carrier development program was critical to the Chinese navy’s continued development into a global force, “gradually extending its operational reach beyond East Asia into a sustained ability to operate at increasingly longer ranges ”.

The PLAN is the world’s largest navy numerically, with about 355 ships, however, it remains behind the US in carriers. The US Navy has 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers as well as nine amphibious assault ships that can carry helicopters and vertical-takeoff fighter jets.

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