China has launched its own aircraft carrier – the first ship of its type to be built from scratch in the rising Asian superpower's yards.
The yet-to-be-named warship was launched at a ceremony held in the northeastern port of Dalian, according to local media via the BBC.
Al Jazeera reported that the 50,000 tonne carrier (she weighs the same as 5.74 million adult badgers) will be commissioned into service in 2020, adding that her main design features – steam turbines and a ski-jump deck – seem to have been copied from old Soviet designs.
The Hindustan Times noted: "Beijing is yet to catch up to Delhi in operating these complex floating airfields." India is another nation dependent on foreign naval tech, having bought two cast-off British aircraft carriers during the 20th century. Like China, the sub-continent is building its own indigenous carrier, though progress appears to be slow.
China's only other aircraft carrier is a Soviet-era vessel bought from the Ukraine a few years ago, refitted for the modern era and renamed Liaoning. Although publicly referred to by China as a training ship, the Liaoning has been deployed around the Western Pacific area, including cruises around Japanese islands. Her first Chinese captain was, oddly, a graduate of the UK's Joint Services Command and Staff College.
Western analysts have long feared a rise of Chinese naval power, particularly in the disputed areas of the South China Sea where an awful lot of Western goods pass through. The latest carrier, being a homegrown ship, means China is no longer dependent on buying and reverse-engineering cast-off warships from top-tier navies. Though kids on the internet will engage in a furious Top Trumps-style comparison between the Chinese ship and America's 100,000-tonne nuclear-powered behemoths, for now China's aircraft carrier capability has no real ability to threaten Western interests.
For now. ®
Assuming the latest Chinese carrier is roughly the same length as the Liaoning, which is in turn basically a Soviet Kuznetsov-class carrier, she is the same length as 2.1 brontosauruses. More of this sort of thing can be found on the Reg standards converter.