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China to build aircraft carriers for first time


Zurui: I don’t know if “Made in China” has the same ring to an aircraft carrier but this is one Chinese product other than tainted gyoza that will catch the attention of Tokyo. It should also give Aso and the next prime minister (PM) of Japan (I think a new PM will be in place before Golden Week) firepower to expand the might of Japan’s Self Defense Forces (SDF). With the current fence-sitting and back-and-forth from Tokyo regarding the SDF’s role in combatting piracy off the coast of Somalia, I think that China’s “official” announcement of building new toys might be the best present the holiday season could bring for Japan. 

A South Korean newspaper has stated that “A source close to Chinese military affairs said . . . that China has been promoting the construction of a 93,000-ton atomic-powered carrier under a plan titled 085 Project. The nation also has a plan to build a 48,000-ton non-nuclear-powered carrier under the so-called 089 Project.”

One thing to remember is that Japan has the ability to project its power in China’s territory with its new JMSDF DDH-181 Hyuga-class destroyer (pictured above) and upgrade of fighter aircraft in Okinawa. The “13,500 ton” ton helicopter-carrying destroyer is similar in design to a small aircraft carrier. The Hyuga can be modified to have VTOL Sea Harriers instead of helicopters. As I have constantly stated here at BT, Tokyo has been on a path to make Beijing blink if the need arises!

Asahi Shimbun: “The Chinese military will begin in 2009 to build aircraft carriers in Shanghai for the first time and will complete two midsize carriers weighing 50,000-60,000 tons by 2015, according to military and shipbuilding company sources. In addition, the Varyag, a Soviet-made 60,000-ton aircraft carrier, which is currently moored in the port of Dalian, Liaoning, will shortly complete its renovation and is expected to be recommissioned for training purposes. Carrier-borne aircraft pilot training has also begun.Recently, Huang Xueping, a spokesman for the Chinese Defense Ministry, referred to the possibility of building aircraft carriers. His positive remarks drew various countries’ attention. However, this is the first time that the plan has been unveiled. China’s flattop deployment will enhance its naval power projection. In that case, it will likely affect the military balance in East Asia.

A step to swing strategy for sea interests

Takushoku University Professor Ikuo Kayahara, former chief researcher at the National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS), says: “Aircraft carriers are the pillars for the Chinese military to reinforce its naval forces. To begin with, it strongly means that China will try to expand the buffer zone in order to protect its coastal areas from the threat of the United States and secure its sea interests. This is the first step of a strategy for China to become a seafaring power swinging into the West Pacific.””

Related Black Tokyo posts:

  1. Weapons use against pirates constitutional
  2. It’s time for America to go and for Japan to rearm
  3. Japan Rising in the Asia-Pacific
  4. Obama may review US-Japan-Pact 
  5. The US-Japanese Alliance in a New Era 
  6. Japan’s Renaissance
  7. The “Yanai-Report” on Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution

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