China launches third aircraft carrier


The Chinese flag is shown in this illustration taken on May 30, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Rovich/Illustration

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BEIJING (Reuters) – China on Friday launched its third domestically designed and manufactured aircraft carrier, the Fujian, in a statement of intent toward rival powers including the United States as it continues to modernize its military, Chinese state media reported.

Champagne, colored ribbons, water cannons and smoke were used to celebrate the warship’s launch and official designation at a ceremony at the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai.

Dozens of Chinese navy personnel lined up in front of the ship and sang the national anthem at the ceremony, which was also attended by senior officials including Xu Zhiliang, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission.

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According to state media, the aircraft carrier features a full-length flight deck with a catapult launch system.

Fujian will join Shandong, which was commissioned in late 2019, and Liaoning, which China bought second-hand from Ukraine in 1998 and refurbished locally.

Only the United States, which has 11 aircraft carriers, has more of these ships. Britain ranks two spots directly behind China.

The Fujian launch demonstrates the growing capability of the Chinese military at a time of rising tension with the United States over Taiwan and Beijing’s claims to the South China Sea.

The new carrier is named after the coastal province of Fujian, which lies directly across the Taiwan Strait from Taiwan, and is the home of the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command.

Taiwan is a prosperous, self-governing democracy. But China considers Taiwan its own territory and has never given up the use of force to bring the island under Beijing’s control.

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(Reporting by Ryan Wu and Martin Pollard) Editing by Richard Boleyn and Stephen Coates

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