Kiyoshi Takenaka and Terril Yue Jones
Sept 25, 2012
China sent its first aircraft carrier into formal service on Tuesday amid a tense maritime dispute with Japan in a show of force that could worry its neighbors.
China’s Ministry of Defense said the newly named Liaoning aircraft carrier would “raise the overall operational strength of the Chinese navy” and help Beijing to “effectively protect national sovereignty, security and development interests”.
In fact, the aircraft carrier, refitted from a ship bought from Ukraine, will have a limited role, mostly for training and testing ahead of the possible launch of China’s first domestically built carriers after 2015, analysts say.
China cast the formal handing over of the carrier to its navy — attended by President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao — as a triumphant show of national strength at a time of tensions with Japan over islands claimed by both sides.