China Uncensored: China’s New Weapon for the South China Sea

August 29, 2016 Updated: August 29, 2016

War between the US and China. It would “destructive, “prolonged,” and “ruinous.” Those were the findings of this recent report by the Rand corporation. Even though the Chinese People’s Liberation Army is far behind the US army in terms of technology and war capability, “by 2025, that gap could be much smaller.”

One piece of the gap that China would need to fill is aircraft carriers. The United States currently has 10 functional aircraft carriers. China has one. And it wasn’t even made in China. It was built in Ukraine before the fall of the Soviet Union. It was sold to China as scrap. The Chinese buyer said he was going to turn it into a casino. But then, shockingly, the Chinese government got ahold of it and kept it as an aircraft carrier. After nearly two decades of refurbishing, it set sail in 2012. It’s called the Liaoning. And it’s not even that functional.

The United States currently has 10 functional aircraft carriers. China has one.

 But now, these photos have surfaced, showing China has almost completed a new aircraft carrier. And this one is made in China.

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Chinese military sources say it will still be several years before construction is complete and crews trained to make it fully operational.

Now a country having its own aircraft carrier is a right of passage. Also helpful for protecting its military interests overseas. Only 13 countries in the world have them. And even though Douglas MacArthur described Taiwan as “the unsinkable aircraft carrier,” at best that just makes it another US one.

But there are some pretty big differences between even this newest under-construction Chinese aircraft carrier and the US’s aircraft carriers. For one, China’s is much smaller, displacing only 60-70,000 tons. Compare that to some of the bigger US ones that displace 100,000 tons.

Also, both the Liaoning and this new one use a ski ramp.

The Liaoning ski ramp.
The Liaoning ski ramp.

And while that’s fun for a weekend at the Poconos, it’s less useful for war. Basically, jets get the lift they need to take off by going really fast and the ramp adds the extra little something to get them in the air. The US uses a catapult system. It hooks onto the front of the plane and throws it into the air. This means heavier or slower aircraft can still launch. But China, using the ski jump, wouldn’t be able to launch turboprop planes, for example cargo aircraft like the US C-2 Greyhound or early warning aircraft like the E-2D Hawkeye. So that means Chinese supplies won’t be so fresh off the boat.

That’s why a recent report by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency said, “The aircraft carriers that [China is] building will not have the same blue open ocean capability that our aircraft carriers have. Nor will it be able to execute air operations the way we use our carriers.”

But directly competing with the US is probably not China’s goal. Since that whole, war between the US and China would be “destructive, “prolonged,” and “ruinous,” thing. A Chinese aircraft carrier doesn’t need to be very powerful or even go very far to achieve the Chinese government’s goals. That’s because “There are strong indications that the new carrier will be based at a military port on Hainan Island, which faces the South China Sea.” So as early as 2020, we might be seeing a Chinese-made aircraft carrier sailing in those disputed waters.

And that’s not all. According to this article, “Some experts believe that the People’s Liberation Army plans to have four to six aircraft carrier groups in the near future.” So who knows, maybe by 2025 we really can on the brink for a good old fashioned “destructive, “prolonged,” and “ruinous,” war with China.

So what do you think of China’s new addition to their navy? Leave your comments below.