China's 2nd aircraft carrier 'taking shape'

BEIJING • China's second aircraft carrier is "taking shape" after two years and nine months of construction, local media reported, a move likely to further unnerve Taiwan and other neighbours about Beijing's growing military assertiveness.

Construction of the Shandong, named after a province in China's east coast, began in 2014, the mobile app of Shandong television and radio said in a report seen yesterday.

The Shandong, China's first indigenous aircraft carrier, is "taking shape", the report said. It did not give a date for completion or further details. It was being built in the north-eastern port of Dalian, the Defence Ministry has said.

The country's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was bought from Ukraine in 1998 and refitted in China.

Last month, a group of Chinese warships, led by the Liaoning, tested weapons and equipment in the South China Sea in what the Chinese Foreign Ministry described as routine exercises that comply with international law.

The group of warships sailed through waters south of Japan and then rounded east and south of Taiwan in December on their way to the southern Chinese province of Hainan.

But China is years away from perfecting carrier operations similar to those the United States has practised for decades.

The eventual launch of the Shandong would further rattle self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own, as well as Asian neighbours Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, which have disputed claims with China in the South China Sea.

Cross-strait tensions have been simmering since Taiwan elected President Tsai Ing-wen from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party last year.

China has vowed to attack if the island declared de jure independence.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2017, with the headline 'China's 2nd aircraft carrier 'taking shape''. Print Edition | Subscribe