China on Wednesday launched its first domestically built aircraft carrier, which will join an existing one bought second-hand, amid rising tensions over North Korea and worries about Beijing’s assertiveness in the South China Sea.
State media has quoted military experts as saying the carrier, designed in China and built in the northeast port of Dalian, is not expected to enter service until 2020, as it will take time to fully kit out and arm.
The launch had been well-flagged as foreign military analysts and Chinese media have for months published satellite images, photographs and news stories about the second carrier’s development. China confirmed its existence in late 2015.
The carrier’s hull is fully constructed, the official Xinhua news agency said, adding that the propulsion, power and other main systems are in place.
The ship’s launch “shows our country’s indigenous aircraft carrier design and construction has achieved major step by step results,” Xinhua said.
State television showed the carrier, its deck lined in red flags, being pushed by tug boats into its berth.
Fan Changlong, a vice chairman of China’s powerful Central Military Commission, presided over the launch ceremony, Xinhua said, during which a bottle of champagne was broken on the bow.
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