Sunday, July 31, 2011
China wants more aircraft carriers to compete with India
BEIJING: A serving Chinese military general is citing India's capabilities in his efforts to edge the government to have more than one aircraft carrier. General Luo Yuan, a senior researcher with the Academy of Military Sciences, said China needs at least three aircraft carriers to defend its interests in the face of neighbors developing their capabilities.
"If we consider our neighbors, India will have three aircraft carriers by 2014 and Japan will have three carriers by 2014," General Luo was quoted as saying by Beijing News. "So I think the number (for China) should not be less than three so we can defend our rights and our maritime interests effectively."
China recently confirmed it was revamping an old Soviet ship to be its first carrier. The state media broadcast footage of its first carrier in a rare public mention of the project. The moves added to worries in the Asian region about Beijing's military expansion and growing assertiveness on territorial issues.
The government tried to reassure neighbors that its first carrier would be used only for the purpose of training and research and there was no plan for aggression involved.
"We are currently re-fitting the body of an old aircraft carrier, and will use it for scientific research, experiments and training," defence ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng told a news briefing.
The latest statement from General Luo shows there has been some rethinking, and Beijing is prepared to talk about using aircraft carriers for war preparedness. The general represents a government academy that plays a role in the military planning process.
China is worried that Japan's three carriers, which are at present used for helicopter operations, would eventually be converted into full aircraft carriers. The two countries have serious disputes over some islands.
The United States indicated it was happy China had taken a step toward better transparency by openly discussing the issue about aircraft carriers.