The major construction and design work of China's second aircraft carrier has been completed, bringing the country one step closer to establishing its own carrier fleet, according to a PLA authority.
"The aircraft carrier's hull blocks have been joined at the shipyard, and equipment installation is currently underway," said Wang Weiming, deputy chief of staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy and an NPC deputy, during a March 9 interview with Xinhua on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People's Congress. The carrier is now awaiting fitting, Wang added.
"In addition to the existing carrier Liaoning, China will put more effort into building its own fleet of aircraft carriers. The number of China's future carriers depends on the country's strategic and military needs. We will not compete with the U.S. to build a fleet of 12 carriers, which is not necessary for China, as the country pursues a national defense policy that is purely defensive in nature," Chen Zhou, a researcher with the Academy of Military Sciences, told Beijing Youth Daily. Chen is also an NPC deputy.
Chen's remarks came after U.S. President Donald Trump promised that he would bolster the U.S. Navy by expanding its number of carriers from 10 to 12.
Echoing Chen, Wang Huayong, deputy political commissar of the Eastern Theater Command, attempted to allay fears surrounding China's rising naval power. He emphasized that the country's forces are for defensive purposes only.
"The aircraft carrier is still in its training and trial stage. Marines remain weak, and the number and quality of long-distance vessels do not meet expectations," Wang told Xinhua.