China should build aircraft carriers: shipbuilder

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Nov 20 2012 03:42 PM | Updated as of Nov 21 2012 06:15 AM

BEIJING - China should independently build its own aircraft carriers, the country's largest shipbuilder said at a pivotal Communist Party meeting where Beijing announced plans to become a "maritime power".

The China Daily reported Tuesday the call for China to match its growing global influence with new military hardware after Beijing in September commissioned its first carrier, the Liaoning, which was purchased from Ukraine.

The launch of the carrier was viewed as a symbolic milestone for the growing military power of China at a time of regional anxiety over Beijing's rise.

It also sparked speculation on when China would domestically construct its own carriers.

Hu Wenming, chairman of China State Shipbuilding Corp (CSSC), said his company was ready to build "seagoing airbases", the China Daily reported.

"We must enhance our independent weapons and equipment research and production capacity to match the country's clout, and independently build our own aircraft carriers," he told the state-run newspaper on the sidelines of a Communist Party congress which ended last week.

Against a backdrop of simmering territorial disputes with its neighbours, outgoing President Hu Jintao indicated in his opening address at the congress that China would continue to assert its disputed claims as it becomes a "maritime power".

CSSC outfitted the Liaoning at the northeastern seaport of Dalian after it was purchased nearly a decade ago.

The 300-metre (990-foot) carrier is now preparing for its first take-offs and landings, state press reports said recently.

Taiwan's intelligence chief said earlier this year that China had already decided to build two aircraft carriers. However despite rumours that work has already begun, there is no evidence of construction of a domestically-built carrier.

After last week's congress, the party introduced new leader, Vice President Xi Jinping, who will succeed Hu as president in March.

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