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China launches third aircraft carrier in military advance | China

China has launched its third aircraft carrier, the first entirely designed and built in the country, marking a significant military advance for the Asian superpower.

The announcement comes as tensions between China and the United States have escalated in recent weeks over Beijing’s slashing of self-governing Taiwan, which it sees as a breakaway province to be seized by force if necessary.

Launched in a Shanghai shipyard with great fanfare, the Fujian is technically more advanced than other Chinese aircraft carriers.

It is the “first fully Chinese-designed and built catapult aircraft carrier”, state broadcaster CCTV said.

It will be years before Fujian reaches operational capability, and the Ministry of Defense has not announced an entry-into-service date.

“Sailing and mooring tests will be carried out as planned after the ship’s launch,” CCTV reported.

China has two other aircraft carriers in service. Liaoning was commissioned in 2012 and Shandong entered service in 2019.

Unlike Fujian, they use a ski-jump type platform to launch aircraft and do not have a catapult launch system.

The United States has the most aircraft carriers in service, with 11 ships, followed by China and Britain, with two each, according to defense magazine Janes.

Chinese warships have repeatedly crossed the strait that separates the island from the mainland and used fighter jets to fend off freedom of navigation patrols by the United States and its allies.

Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe last week warned his American counterpart that Beijing “would not hesitate to start a war at all costs” if Taiwan declared independence.

President Xi Jinping has overseen an overhaul of the People’s Liberation Army since taking power in 2012 and has pledged to build a “fully modern” force to rival the US military by 2027.

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The growth of China’s armed forces comes at a time of heightened geopolitical tensions as Washington seeks to cement military alliances in the Asia-Pacific region.

Last year, the United States struck a historic deal with Britain to share nuclear submarine technology with Australia and has since made several arms sales to Taiwan, prompting angry reactions from Beijing.

Meanwhile, China brokered an unprecedented security deal with the Solomon Islands this year that blindsided Washington and its allies, stoking fears of another Chinese military base in the Pacific.

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Post expires at 4:06pm on Tuesday June 28th, 2022