China's decision to build second aircraft carrier leaked online

The development will do little to calm nerves in the region about Beijing’s growing maritime power

Click to follow
The Independent Online

News that China is building a second aircraft carrier has been leaked by an over-enthusiastic local authority, but the reports have subsequently been deleted from websites and social media.

The development will do little to calm nerves in the region about Beijing’s growing maritime power. The authority in Changzhou, in eastern Jiangshu province, boasted on social media on Sunday that a local firm had won a contract to supply electrical cabling for the carrier.

It later deleted the post, but not before it had been widely circulated. A report in a local newspaper was also withdrawn.

Although China has made no secret of its desire to expand its navy, the news is a reminder of the assertive way Beijing has gone about staking its territorial claims in the East and South China Seas in recent years.

 

In December, a US congressional commission predicted that the Chinese navy would have more military vessels than its American counterpart, warning that “the balance of power and presence” in Asia was shifting. Last week, the country’s defence ministry spokesman, Colonel Yang Yujun, said that military training this year would focus on improving its capability to win “local wars”.

Last year, the Communist Party secretary of Liaoning province was reported to have said that construction of a second carrier had already begun in the shipyard in Dalian, where the first carrier is also based, adding that work would be completed by 2020. The China Digital Times, which monitors online censorship, said that authorities had ordered reports of his remarks to be deleted.

The purchase of China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was cloaked in subterfuge. A Hong Kong businessman and former People’s Liberation Army basketball star, Xu Zengping, bought the ship from Ukraine in 1999 claiming he would turn it into a floating casino in Macao. However, he gave it to the authorities, who put it into service in 2012.

© The Washington Post

Comments