New aircraft carrier launched by China
Poriborton Desk 2:52 pm, April 26, 2017
A new aircraft carrier has been launched by China, enhancing its military presence amid rising tensions in the region. After the Liaoning, it is China's second aircraft carrier, and it is also the first to be made domestically.
State media said the unnamed ship was "transferred from dry dock into the water" in the north-eastern port of Dalian. Previous reports said it would be operational by 2020.
It comes amid heated rhetoric between the US and North Korea in recent days.
China has had only one operational aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which it bought from Ukraine and refitted.
The US has deployed warships and a submarine to the Korean peninsula, prompting an angry reaction from North Korea. China has urged calm.
There is also the ongoing issue of competing territorial claims in the South China Sea.
The new carrier will deploy Shenyang J-15 fighter jets, but is considered by many military observers to be technologically inferior to the 10 carriers used by the United States navy, says a reporter.
The new carrier is touted as a significant upgrade from the Liaoning, which was built more than 25 years ago and is a refurbished ship from the days of the Soviet Union.
It has been seen by some analysts as a kind of training vessel in preparation for the new carrier.
But China has been modernising its armed forces recently as its economy expands.
In March, it announced it would increase its military budget by about 7% this year - the second year in a row that increases have been less than 10%, after nearly 20 years of larger increases.
China's defence budget remains smaller than that of the US, however.
While China's military spending will be about 1.3% of the country's projected GDP in 2017, the US spends roughly 3% of its economic output on the military - and the US economy is larger, so the dollar value difference is enormous.
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