SHANGHAI: China launched its biggest and most modern aircraft carrier on Friday, marking a major military advance for Beijing.

The announcement comes at a time of heightened tensions between China and the United States over Taiwan, which it views as a breakaway province to be seized by force if necessary.

China’s carrier development programme is part of a massive overhaul of the Peoples Liberation Army under President Xi Jinping, who has vowed to build a “fully modern” force to rival the US military by 2027.

The new carrier, named Fujian, is the “first catapult aircraft carrier wholly designed and built by China”, said state broadcaster CCTV.

Columns of sailors in white uniforms applauded under colourful clouds of smoke as jets of water arced over the gigantic vessel to mark its launch.

Colourful streamers hung from its flight deck, on which large banners read: “Strive for the comprehensive construction of a... first-class navy.”

The launch of the carrier marks a major milestone for the Chinese military.

Published in Dawn,June 18th, 2022

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