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China will build its own aircraft carriers – one day

CHINA will not be always without aircraft carriers, Defense Minister Liang Guanglie said during a meeting with his Japanese counterpart Yasukazu Hamada on Friday.

China will not indefinitely remain the world's only major nation without an aircraft carrier, Liang told the visiting Japanese Defense Minister, according to the Oriental Morning Post.

China has vast territories of sea and obligations to defend it, Liang said. He emphasized the importance for China to own its own aircraft carriers as the Chinese navy is currently weak and needs development.

Liang also indicated the sorts of conditions to be considered when building aircraft carriers.

Hamada didn't express any concerns over the issue.

It is not the first time Chinese military authority has revealed an intention to develop domestically made aircraft carriers.

Senior colonel Huang Xueping, spokesman of Ministry of Defense, said the Chinese government would seriously consider relevant issues about building aircraft carriers when he was introducing details of the Chinese naval ships' escort mission in Somalia waters.

The Japanese media once reported that China had planned to start building two medium-sized conventional carriers this year with an estimated displacement of between 50,000 tons and 60,000 tons each and the construction would be completed by 2015.

According to the Asahi Shimbun, by last autumn China had the world's biggest shipyard at Changxing Island in Shanghai with four large docks, one for warships.

The report said the People's Liberation Army has completed initial planning for the project and set up a special department under the navy command headquarters.

The first carriers would join the PLA Navy's South Sea Fleet.

China has also reportedly purchased 50 Sukhoi Su-33 carrier-based multi-role fighters from Russia.

But China's first aircraft carrier would not be in service until 2020, the Wall Street Journal quoted governmental and military analysts from the United States as saying. Because aircraft carriers are complicated war platforms it takes some time to develop systems for military operations in the air or on the sea as well as the research and development of radar and command systems and the training of carrier-based fighters, the report said.

It may take at least five years to train an aircraft carrier commander, US analysts said. Adjusting its military command system which is now being undertaken could take also five or six years.


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