The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China announced that it has begun construction of the country’s first aircraft carrier, the Varyag.
The ship was originally intended for the Soviet navy, but following the collapse of the Soviet Union it was left to rust in a shipyard in Ukraine for years. Construction began on the aircraft carrier more than two decades ago, back in the 1980s.
Years later a Chinese company purchased the carrier and claimed that it was going to transform the massive ship into a floating casino in Macau. However, it was later revealed that the company was a front for the People’s Liberation Army and that the ship was going to be used for military purposes.
This week General Chen of the PLA confirmed that the country was pursuing the construction of its first aircraft carrier. Chen would not disclose the expected date of completion for the 300 meter warship.
Construction work for the aircraft carrier is taking place in the port of Dalian, in China’s northeast province of Liaoning. It is believed that the construction project is near completion and that the ship will be ready to begin sea trails by next fall.
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Lt. General Qi Jianguo, Assistant Chief of the General Staff of the PLA, told the Chinese press that once construction is completed the ship would not pose a threat to the rest of the world and would not be deployed into the territorial waters of nearby countries.
"All of the great nations in the world own aircraft carriers - they are symbols of a great nation," Jianguo said. “We are now facing heavy pressure in the oceans whether in the South China Sea, East China Sea, Yellow Sea or the Taiwan Straits.”