China’s second aircraft carrier, currently being built at a rapid pace, is likely to be based somewhere near the South China Sea to handle “complicated situations”, state-run media reported amid tensions over the country’s assertiveness in the disputed region.
The second carrier is being built at the port of Dalian.
An official television network in Shandong yesterday reported that the aircraft carrier was “taking shape” after two years and nine months of construction, but it did not provide further details, such as when the carrier would be completed.
Various Chinese media reports have suggested that the carrier was expected to be completed in the first half of 2017 and would officially join the navy in 2019, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday.
Beijing has yet to officially announce the base of China’s second aircraft carrier.
The country’s second carrier is likely to be named the Shandong after the province on China’s east coast, an article carried by Xiake Dao, a social media account affiliated with the overseas edition of the state run Peoples Daily said.
“Based on existing available information,” the Chinese navy’s second aircraft carrier base would be in a southern province, it said.
“It will be used to tackle the complicated situations in the South China Sea. The aircraft carrier will probably be based there,” the article said.
Recent reports in the official media said China is also in the process of building a third aircraft carrier.
The first carrier, the Liaoning, which is a refitted version of former Soviet Union ship, is based in Qingdao, a port in the north that is close to Japan and South Korea.
An aircraft carrier base in the southern part of China’s coast is likely to enhance the nation’s military capability in the South China Sea, where China is building up artificial islands and stirring up tensions with the US.
Recent write-ups in the official media say China braced for a showdown with the US as officials of the Trump administration have made remarks like US should stop Chinese ships accessing the artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea.
China has become more assertive over the South China Sea after an international tribunal struck down its claim over almost all of the area.
The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have counter claims over the South China Sea.