China confirms that it is building a second aircraft carrier

China confirmed it is building a second aircraft carrier, based on experience gained from the Liaoning (pictured).
China confirmed it is building a second aircraft carrier, based on experience gained from the Liaoning (pictured). PHOTO: CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

BEIJING (REUTERS, AFP) - China on Thursday confirmed it is building a second aircraft carrier, as Beijing expands its naval capabilities amid maritime disputes with neighbours in the East and South China Seas.

"This aircraft carrier is being developed according to entirely domestic designs," defence ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told a regular briefing, adding it was under construction in Dalian, a north-eastern port.

The official confirmation comes after months of rumours and hints from military officials.

Beijing has rapidly expanded its military in recent years, rattling its neighbours and attracting the attention of the United States, which is making a foreign policy "pivot" towards Asia.

The construction drew on experiences from the country's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, a second-hand Soviet ship bought from Ukraine in 1998 and refitted in China. It was commissioned in 2012 after extensive refits.

The new vessel will use "conventional power", Yang said, as opposed to being nuclear-driven, and will carry China's indigenous J-15 aircraft along with other planes.

It will have a displacement of 50,000 tonnes, he said.

Beijing's forces have been involved in sometimes tense confrontations with Japanese and Philippine units over maritime disputes in the East China Sea and South China Sea respectively, amid fears that the disputes could result in armed clashes.