China launches third plane provider

The Chinese flag is seen in this illustration dated May 30, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

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BEIJING, June 17 (Reuters) – China launched its third aircraft carrier, the domestically designed and built Fujian, on Friday, state media reported, sending a letter of intent to rival powers including the United States while it continues to modernize its military.

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

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

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

The Fujian will join the Shandong, which entered service at the end of 2019, and the Liaoning, which China bought second-hand from Ukraine in 1998 and converted domestically.

Only the United States, which has 11 aircraft carriers, has more such ships. The UK ranks just below China and has two in operation.

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

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

Taiwan is a self-governing, thriving democracy. But China regards Taiwan as its own territory and has never refrained from using force to bring the island under Beijing’s control.

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Reporting by Ryan Woo and Martin Pollard; Adaptation by Richard Pullin and Stephen Coates

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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