The Chinese military has confirmed for the first time that Beijing is building an aircraft carrier, but says it won’t be deployed offensively.
General Chen Bingde, the chief of the People’s Liberation Army’s general staff told the Hong Kong Commercial Daily that China’s inaugural aircraft carrier was being built “but has not been completed yet”. His colleague General Qi Jianguo added that “unlike some countries which have aircraft carriers, China will not send the carrier to other countries. This is impossible.” Qi insisted China’s carrier will be used for defence, staying in Chinese waters. But as maritime tensions with Vietnam prove – and which escalated this week when Chinese vessels cut cables on a Vietnamese seismic survey craft – what China defines as its waters is contentious and could lead some neighbours to feel threatened; especially if its carrier ever sails into contested waters such as those around the Spratly Islands (claimed by many nations, including China and Vietnam).
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