China launches its first domestically built aircraft carrier

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China has shown off its growing military strength by launching a new aircraft carrier, amid rising worldwide tensions over North Korea.

China's first domestically developed aircraft carrier is launched in Dalian, Liaoning Province, Wednesday. Development of the new carrier began in 2013 and moved into high-gear in 2015.

Putting the carrier into water marks progress in China's efforts to design and build a domestic aircraft carrier.

After the launch, the new carrier will undergo equipment debugging, outfitting and mooring trials to be fully operational.

Aircraft carriers are incredibly expensive to build and maintain, and given China's huge economic and manufacturing edge over India, it would be a waste of time and money for India to try and compete with China in building such fleets.

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Major General Chen Zhou, a researcher at the Academy of Military Science, told reporters in March that China would not exceed the United States in carrier groups.

The launch of China's Type 001A carrier, although the Chinese governments has yet to reveal the name of the carrier, Chinese media speculates that it will be named the Shandong.

China's navy has been taking an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and new Chinese warships popping up in far-flung places.

Even so, the relatively modest size and capabilities of the new carrier suggest that China is modernising and expanding its naval forces in a step-by-step way, avoiding risky technological leaps, experts have said.

Analysts said the ship represented a "status symbol" for Beijing in a contested region but posed little threat to advanced U.S. carriers.

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The new carrier has a more advanced weapons systems than the Liaoning, said Mr Ni Lexiong, director of the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law's Sea Power and Defence Policy Research Institute. After that, the new aircraft carrier was slowly towed out of the dockyard and transferred to the wharf.

Also attending was navy commander Vice Adm. Shen Jinlong, a former commander of the South Sea Fleet responsible for defending China's claim to most of the South China Sea.

When: On April 25, China launched its new carrier from the shipyard of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corp (CSIC).

China now becomes the seventh country with the capability to build its own carriers aircraft after the US, Russia, Britain, France, Italy and Spain.

Along with their role in protecting China's maritime interests, Chinese naval strategists see the carrier programme as "about having naval power commensurate with China's global status, to impress both external and domestic audiences", noted China expert Michael Chase of the United States think-tank Rand Corporation.

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