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The "new" Chinese aircraft carrier, sitting in port prior to launch  (Source: AP / Kyodo News)

New propoganda in Taiwan  (Source: AP)
China's expected aircraft carrier sea trials begin, while world waits in anticipation

China flexed its growing military might after it began its first aircraft carrier open sea trials, with the retrofitted Varyag.

This is a historic milestone for the country of China, but it is from being an international secret.  China confirmed the aircraft carrier's development in the spring, but the retrofitted and upgraded former Soviet ship's development was long expected by foreign observers.

China previously discussed interest in creating a fleet of aircraft carriers to update its navy, with military experts becoming increasingly concerned by this effort.  However, both Chinese military experts and foreign analysts believe it will be quite some time before the country has a full aircraft fleet able to carry out flight operations.

Ironically, the Varyag was previously purchased from Ukraine so it could be turned into a casino -- but after years of modifications that included new engines, radar equipment, and other military technologies, China believes it has the first step to a revamped national navy. 

Chinese news reports were unable to confirm how long sea trials of the new ship would last.  However, scientific research along with at-sea training is expected to take place, though state-run Chinese media didn't say much else.

The U.S. has been left confused about the realistic need of such an aircraft carrier, with the following statement issued by the U.S. State Department, "We would welcome any kind of explanation that China would like to give for needing this kind of equipment.  We have had concerns for some time and we've been quite open with them with regard to the lack of transparency from China regarding its power projection and its lack of access and denial of capabilities." 

Along with showing the U.S. that its military is developing, this taunts Taiwan and Japan -- two close Asian rivals -- as officials from Taiwan said the recent aircraft carrier launch was symbolic, but didn't mention other details related to the closely-watched event.  

In addition, Taiwan also showed off the country's latest generation of anti-ship cruise missiles with a bold promotional poster.  In the new image, the Hsiung Feng III missile impacts an unidentifiable aircraft that is similar to the Chinese carrier.  It seems like a promotional image that the Chinese ship itself will not see as much of a threat.

China will likely try to use its new naval technologies to better keep a watchful eye on the South China Sea, with growing concern from Japanese defense officials that China could look to carry out more activities near Japanese waters.





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