Chinese aircraft carrier to serve in South China Sea

August 17th, 2011 - 1:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 17 (IANS) China’s new aircraft carrier is likely to serve in the South China Sea by the next Army Day (Sep 3), a military source has revealed.

The South China Sea is a marginal sea that is part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around 3,500,000 sq km. Its importance majorly results from one-third of the world’s shipping transiting through its waters and that it is believed to hold huge oil and gas reserves beneath its seabed.

The vessel, which is China’s first aircraft carrier, will largely expand the combat radius, raising the country’s offshore comprehensive combat capabilities beyond the first island chain, People’s Daily Online reported.

The vessel holds a symbolic meaning for China’s naval power image. Its participation is likely to strengthen the navy’s combat ability and deterrent force.

It will operate under direct command of the country’s Central Military Commission.

According to General Qiao Liang, a military expert, air domination is the prerequisite of naval warfare, especially for the remote areas away from the heartland. As a result, there is no alternative for the vessel’s leadership.

The aircraft carrier is now more a strategic weapon rather than being an armament used in actual combat. Its combat function ended as the World War II was over.

“If an aircraft carrier sets sail from Japan’s Yokosuka port, it takes a week for the vessel to arrive at the Malacca Strait and another a week’s journey to the Red Sea. But that trip can be made within an hour - even half an hour - by a missile,” Qiao said.

He said air and space power hold the key to future wars as it is faster, clearer and more accurate.

“The aircraft carrier will guarantee the smooth inflow of energy and resources into China from international waters. It can also ensure security and interests of Chinese workers overseas,” Qiao said.

China’s new carrier aircraft has reached the world’s best level, Qiao said. Technically, its lifetime should be at least half a century.

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