China needs at least three aircraft carriers to defend its strategic interests, a Chinese general said a few days after the Ministry of Defence had agreed to build a first flagship embodies the Naval ambition of Beijing. “If we consider our neighbors, India will have three aircraft carriers by 2014, Japan will have three quasi carriers by 2014, so I think the number (for China) should not be less than three if we are to defend our rights and our maritime interests effectively, “said Friday General Luo Yuan (罗援), quoted by the newspaper Beijing News.
For years the PLA has adopted a low profile to talk about its first aircraft carrier, worried about the bellicose image the ship could convey.
The first aircraft carrier of China, former Soviet “Varyag” purchased in 1998 from Ukraine, may indeed dent the image that China wants to present: that the country’s force only to defend itself, without seeking hegemony.
The ship, now near completion but the date of baptism at sea is unknown, will be used for scientific research and training exercises, said Wednesday the Chinese Ministry of Defense. Independent experts assume that Beijing has already begun, without saying, a building program or a two aircraft carriers.
The United States welcomed Friday that the Beijing authorities have disclosed the construction of the first Chinese aircraft carrier, seeing it as a sign of a move towards greater transparency between the two countries.