China plans to put its first aircraft carrier into service later this year, a top navy official said.
Xu Hongmeng, deputy commander of the Navy of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, told the People's Daily on Sunday the PLA "has a plan" to put it into service this year. The carrier has undergone four sea trials since last year.
According to media reports, the former Varyag, which is docked in Dalian Port, in Northeast China's Liaoning province, is currently equipped with life-size model planes.
China's first aircraft carrier, a retrofitted former Soviet vessel, set out on its maiden voyage on Aug 10 and returned to port five days later. It underwent three more sea trials in the Pacific.
Wang Dengping, the political commissar of the Navy's North China Sea Fleet, told the media on Sunday that possessing an aircraft carrier will not change China's defense policy.
China has 3 million square kilometers of sea area yet only one aircraft carrier, which is mainly committed to scientific research and training. Our near-shore defense policy will not be changed, Wang said.
The vessel, an Admiral Kuznetsov class aircraft carrier, measuring 304.5 meters long and displacing 58,500 tons, was intended for the Soviet navy.
But its construction was halted when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Engineers in Ukraine disarmed it and removed its engines before selling it to China in 1998.
China is the last permanent member of the United Nations Security Council to operate a fully functioning carrier.
The United States, Britain, France, Russia, Spain, Italy, India, Brazil and Thailand operate 21 active aircraft carriers, with the US alone having 11.
India bought and commissioned an aircraft carrier in the late 1980s and Thailand did so in the 1990s.
1. When was the aircraft carrier’s maiden voyage?
2. How many square kilometers of sea does China have?
3. When was it sold to China?
1. August 10.
2. 3 million.
（中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑）
About the broadcaster:
Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.