China’s second aircraft carrier, currently being built at a rapid pace is likely to be based somewhere near the strategic South China Sea to handle “complicated situations”, the state media reported. The second carrier is being built at the eastern port of Dalian. Yesterday, an official television network in Shandong reported that the aircraft carrier was “taking shape” after two years and nine months of construction, but it did not provide further details, such as when the carrier would be completed.
Various Chinese media reports have suggested that the carrier was expected to be completed in the first half of 2017 and would officially join the navy in 2019, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported. Beijing has yet to officially announce the base of China’s second aircraft carrier.
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The first carrier, the Liaoning, which is a refitted version of former Soviet Union ship is based in Qingdao, a port in the north that is close to Japan and South Korea. An aircraft carrier base in the southern part of China’s coast is likely to enhance the nation’s military capability in the South China Sea, where China is building up artificial islands and stirring up tensions with Washington.
Recent write-ups in the official media had said that, China braced for a showdown as Trump administration officials have made remarks like the US should stop Chinese ships accessing the artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea. China also apprehends a trade and currency war with the US as President Donald Trump has threatened to impose 45 per cent tariffs on Chinese goods and act against Beijing for currency manipulation.
Liaoning was mostly regarded as an experimental carrier though in recent months it travelled though the Taiwan straits and South China Sea and carried out live firing exercises. The country’s second carrier was likely to be named the Shandong after the province on China’s east coast, an article carried by Xiake Dao, a social media account affiliated with the overseas edition of the state-run People’s Daily said.
“Based on existing available information”, the Chinese navy’s second aircraft carrier base would be in a southern province, it said. “It will be used to tackle the complicated situations in the South China Sea. The aircraft carrier will probably be based there,” the article said.
Recent reports in the official media said China is also in the process of building a third aircraft carrier.