China's Second Carrier: the View from Beijing

(Source: Global Times; posted Dec. 18, 2019)

China’s second aircraft carrier, Shandong, will further boost the country’s naval capabilities, but Chinese state-controlled media stress it is still far from “world first class levels” and that it is no match for US Navy carriers. (China MoD photo)

The Shandong (hull 17), China's second aircraft carrier as well as its first domestically built one, was commissioned Tuesday afternoon into the People's Liberation Army Navy in Sanya, South China's Hainan Province. This marks China's entry into an era of dual aircraft carriers and home-built aircraft carriers. China's comprehensive national defense strength has taken another great step forward.

China's defense strength is rapidly rising with advancing modernization, while it still lags behind the world's first-class military power. Such a period seemingly will last for a quite long time. How would China use its military power? This will attract the world's attention and also needs China to mull over.

The development of equipment such as aircraft carriers is not aimed at dealing with its surroundings. China's existing weaponry has been enough to constitute deterrence. The country's aircraft carriers are not intended to provoke the US. If it were the goal, China in the foreseeable future would always be at a disadvantage and face strategic risks.

Developing strategic military capabilities is an indispensable part of China's comprehensive development. If a major power is strong in economy but weak in military, it will entice impulsive actions of outside forces with peace in jeopardy.

Two mind-sets are behind the "China threat" theory. For one, small countries are afraid of being threatened by China. Such a mentality will gradually diminish as China continues to demonstrate its will for peace. For another, the superpower has a mentality that fears China would challenge its hegemony. The second mind-set tends to last longer.

Although China's dual aircraft carriers are high-performing in Asia, they are still far from the world first-class level. China cannot match the US in terms of nuclear power, naval and air forces, alliance as well as overseas base systems. China is impossible to launch a challenge to the US.

China's development only "threatens" the ability of a few radical US elites to arbitrarily coerce China. Because the stronger China's military is, the greater the risks the US will face when it imposes irrational pressure on China. Such risks are increasingly becoming unbearable to the US.

The Chinese people sincerely long for peace. Peaceful development is not only our good faith, but also the best choice for China's own interests. This is not a slogan. The history of the rise of major powers shows that China has no other choice than to get along with the outside world and maximize its own interests through expanded cooperation and win-win results.

The advent of scientific and technological achievements, as well as strategic military equipment has greatly inspired the Chinese people. But at the same time, Chinese society has maintained sobriety. We know that we have acquired more resources to ensure peaceful development and would not be easily strategically coerced.

International public opinion will pay great attention to the commissioning of the new aircraft carrier. It's hoped the outside world would view the ship from a positive perspective. China, the second-largest economy in the world, has also become strong militarily. This is a positive change for world peace, not the other way around.

China adopts a national defense strategy that is purely defensive in nature. The addition of a domestically-built aircraft carrier has strengthened China's defense, but it will not be used for overseas expedition.


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