China may be looking to flex its muscles in waters far from its shores with its first aircraft carrier that is now, according to state-run Global Times, ready for combat.
The Liaoning carrier is “constantly prepared for war”, the state media report cited the carrier’s political commissar, Li Dongyou, as saying.
As a military force, we are always prepared for war and our combat capacity also needs to be tested by war... At this moment, we are doing our best to promote our strength and use it to prevent war, and are prepared for actual combat at any time.
According to a report in The Japan Times, the Liaoning was commissioned in 2012 after it was purchased as an incomplete Soviet-made hull from Ukraine in 1998.
Although the carrier is now combat-ready, it is still not as powerful as its counterparts from other countries. At the same time, it does help the country project some kind of naval power in the far seas.
It’s important to note at this point that China has no plans to rely on this carrier alone. It’s already in the process of building its own aircraft carrier.
This is a significant development for the region since China is engaged in a dispute over the South China Sea. To put it simply, it claims most of the sea, which carries $5 trillion of trade across its surface. However, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam all have rival claims.
China’s claim over the sea was rejected earlier this year by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. Beijing, on its part, returned the favour by rejecting the court’s judgement.
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