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
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
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.