China to unveil fourth aircraft carrier soon: PLA Navy political commissar

2024-03-07 09:01:10Global Times Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

China will unveil its fourth aircraft carrier soon and answer the question as to whether it will be nuclear-powered, said the political commissar of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy at the ongoing two sessions in Beijing.

Yuan Huazhi, who is also a National People's Congress (NPC) deputy, made the remarks on the sidelines of the second session of the 14th NPC on Tuesday, when answering the question by the Hong Kong Commercial Daily.

"[We] will tell you soon," Yuan said. Yuan said there is no bottleneck in China's aircraft carrier technologies, and the development is progressing smoothly.

Responding to a question about the differences between the combat capabilities of Chinese aircraft carriers and U.S. aircraft carriers, Yuan stressed that China's aircraft carrier program is not aimed at competing with the U.S., but at safeguarding national sovereignty, territorial integrity and rights.

Reiterating China's national defense policy being defensive in nature, the senior naval officer said China's aircraft carriers are expected to sail farther away from China's coastal waters.

When asked about whether China can deal with U.S. aircraft carriers that have been intensively deployed in the West Pacific, Yuan said that, "Trust us, we can. We don't just deal with aircraft carriers. We also deal with [potential threats] comprehensively."

The hashtag "China to unveil its fourth aircraft carrier soon" became the top trending topic on Sina Weibo on Wednesday, garnering about 10 million views as of press time, with netizens expressing their expectations on the new carrier.

Multiple experts told the Global Times that China is expected to eventually build more aircraft carriers amid the PLA Navy's strides to build a blue-water navy under its strategy of near seas defense and far seas protection, so as to better safeguard national sovereignty, territorial integrity and development interests, as the country develops comprehensively.

According to the general pattern of aircraft carrier deployment, an aircraft carrier spends one third of its time in maintenance, one third in training and only one third in deployment, so having three aircraft carriers means the PLA Navy can only have one carrier at its disposal at any given time, experts said.

Some analysts expect China's next aircraft carrier to be nuclear-powered because of advantages such as unlimited range, while some others think China could build another conventionally powered carrier like the country's third carrier Fujian, citing cost efficiency and faster combat capability generation.

The PLA Navy currently operates only two aircraft carriers, the Liaoning and the Shandong, both are conventionally powered and use ski-jump ramps to assist aircraft takeoffs.

The third carrier Fujian, which is larger than its two predecessors and uses electromagnetic catapults to assist aircraft takeoffs, is undergoing mooring tests and is expected to conduct sea trials this year.

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