China's First Aircraft Carrier Is Sailing

Well this sure happened sooner than expected: just a couple of weeks after they flipped on the lights for the first time, China's refitted Soviet hulk has made its ocean debut. This is their first claim to serious naval power.

Although the movement of the enormous Shi Lang is likely to captivate (and unsettle) China's neighbours (and perhaps the Pentagon), some analysts think the sea trials are little more than that: a symbolic baby step. But let's not underestimate the power of symbolism. Carriers are, after all, the gigantic floating penises of naval hegemony: "I find myself observing the sea trials of the ex-Varyag as little more than one more minor achievement in what will be a long road for Chinese seapower; a largely insignificant event that will be one of many firsts during the development of aircraft carrier capabilities by China. With that said... the sea trials for ex-Varyag is also an enormous symbolic benchmark that truly does reflect the ascension of China," notes analyst Raymond Pritchett.

Andrew Erickson of Harvard and the US Naval War College echoes the subdued significance of the sail: "China's Navy has finally realised its longtime dream of obtaining an aircraft carrier and putting it to sea," and "the carrier will subject China to even more diplomatic turbulence as its neighbours react to the reality that their giant neighbour now has a basically functioning carrier." Erickson also wonders whether China will attempt to block snooping national interests from coming anywhere near the carrier, and whether it'll execute any flight missions while it's at sea. But even if it doesn't, its mere existence is a big, big chip. Carriers, even at peacetime, are power — and the thing merely floating is an exercise of that power. [Andrew Erickson & Raymond Pritchett via DoD Buzz]


Comments

    Considering that the Japanese Navy is ranked third and China is sixth, I think they've got a bit further to go yet! That being said however, they just might catch up soon!! #}

      Where does Australia rank?

        i'd also love to know this

          Do you really want to know? I think as far as number of ships goes Australia ranks somewhere in the high 30's with a whopping 53 Naval vessels. The USA has 2,384. Our combined armed forces come in at no 24.

    It is widely believed that Chinese Naval aviators have previously trained on the flight deck of the HMAS Melbourne, which we sold to China in the 80's for 'scrap'.

    More info on world rankings here: http://www.globalfirepower.com/

    Well that's the crux right there, we are never going to win on sheer power we need to win on smarts.

    The $16billion we are going to spend on 100 joint strike fighters would be better spent on us developing a technology that can win over sheer numbers.

      ...and that's why ADF sinks so much money into special forces, everyone else is just cannon fodder or support staff. Our tanks are crap, our choppers are crap, our planes are crap, and our navy is a glorified fleet of fishing boats.
      Yet all our SF guys can run 20+km without even thinking about it, take down a whole platoon with only their little finger, have access to nearly whatever toys they want to play with and then some...
      Guerrilla warfare ftw.

        Ollie, can't tell you how wrong you are pal. It's actually the opposite. All of our forces are put through more intense and higher quality training than international forces for that reason. Our numbers are not that great but we are a powerful few. Speaking from ex military point of view.

    Nuclear Communist Red China, now run by successors of guerrilla fighter Mao DzeDung definitely needs a fleet of aircraft carriers to defend itself against peaceful non-nuclear and non-aircraft carrier countries of South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines and of course later - Australia, Canada, Mexico, USA and other countries in Central and South America. Don't you understand threats to China?

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