China has introduced a third aircraft carrier named after the province opposite Taiwan

This chart taken on May 30, 2022 shows the Chinese flag. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration

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BEIJING, June 17 (Reuters) – China on Friday unveiled its third aircraft carrier Fujian, named after the province opposite the sovereign Taiwan, which sent out a statement to rivals while modernizing its military.

President Xi Jinping has made the transformation of the world’s largest armed forces a central part of his agenda, seeking to assert power beyond China’s shores, although the government says it has no hostile intentions.

State media reported that champagne, colorful ribbons, water cannons and smoke were used to celebrate the carrier’s launch and the official naming ceremony at a ceremony at the Jiangnan shipyard in Shanghai.

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Dozens of Marines stood in the front row of the ship and sang the national anthem at the ceremony, which was attended by senior officials, including Vice President of the Central Military Commission Xu Kiliang.

According to state media, the aircraft carrier has a full-fledged air base with a catapult.

Fujian will join Shandong, which was launched in late 2019, and China, which in 1998 bought second-hand from Ukraine and re-fitted domestically in Liaoning.

China is still appreciating the ability to operate carriers that the United States has been doing for decades and integrate them into war teams.

The United States alone has the largest fleet of 11 aircraft carriers.

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

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The coastal province of Fujian from Taiwan across the Taiwan Strait is home to the Eastern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army.

Taiwan is a prosperous democracy, but China considers the island as its own territory and has never given up its use of force to bring it under its control.

A senior Taiwanese official familiar with the island’s security planning told Reuters that China was flagging its intentions in the region with a new carrier to better demonstrate power in the Pacific.

“In the future, they want to infiltrate directly into the east of the first island chain, which includes Japan’s Ryukyu Islands and the Pacific Ocean east of Taiwan,” the official said anonymously.

“Beijing sees any regional cooperation as a intervention in the Taiwan issue or as a challenge to China. The launch of the new carrier is a negative statement.”

Taiwan is modernizing its own armed forces, including a new type of highly active stealth warship, which Taiwan refers to as “aircraft carrier” due to its missile filling.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement to Reuters about the new carrier that it “places great importance” on China’s military advances and “coordinates it in a way that looks forward to researching the situation of the enemy.”

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Report by Ryan Woo and Martin Pollard; Additional Reporting by Yimou Lee and Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Editing by Richard Bullin, Stephen Coates and Kim Gogil

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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