China’s President Xi Jinping has commissioned the worlds first “Made in China” aircraft carrier the Shandong. The Shandong is the second Chinese aircraft carrier to enter service after the Liaoning. The Liaoning was originally purchased as a hulk from the Ukraine and entirely refurbished .
State media reported that about 5,000 representatives from the naval forces and aircraft carrier construction groups attended the commissioning ceremony. The ceremony took place at a naval base near the city of Sanya.
The base in the southern island province of Hainan opens onto the South China Sea. Where China is engaged in an increasingly heated dispute over territory and undersea oil and gas resources.
China has laid claim to virtually the entire strategic waterway. Through an estimated $5 trillion in trade passes through annually. China’s claims overlaps partially or in whole with five other governments.
Pacific Nations Beefing Up Their Navies
Countries in the region, along with U.S. treaty allies including Japan and Australia, are also beefing up their navies. The buildup is in response to Chinese actions in the south China Sea. Such as the construction of man-made islands that Beijing has equipped with missile batteries.
State television footage showed Xi being applauded as he boarded the ship to present a flag and certificate. He also inspected aircraft and toured the bridge and flight coordination operations center.
“Commending China’s achievements in aircraft carrier construction, Xi encouraged them to continue their efforts to make new contributions in the service of the party and the people,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Soviet style jump deck design
Like the Liaoning, the Shandong is named after a northern province and is based on a Soviet jump deck design. With a ”ski jump” style flight deck for takeoffs rather than the flat decks used U.S. aircraft carriers.
It is powered by a conventional oil-fueled steam turbine power plant, despite China’s pledge at the Paris climate accord. The US Aircraft Carriers are nuclear fueled, as are their submarines.
The 50,000-ton Shandong completed sea trials last year before returning to the construction yard. Following the arrival of its air complement Chinese J-15 fighter jets. It was due to be commissioned before 2020.
The Shandong through the Taiwan Strait on its way to Hainan last month. Prompting Taiwan’s military to scramble ships and planes to monitor its passage.
China is seen as striving to overtake the U.S. as the dominant naval power in Asia. The country already boasts the world’s largest navy in numbers of vessels.
Beijing says aircraft carriers are needed to protect its coastline and trade routes. However they are also seen as backing up Beijing’s claims to the South China Sea.
Substandard Steel and Corruption in China
Despite President Xi Jinping’s promised to weed out corrupt government officials, corruption is still rampant in China. Six years ago, the Chinese Communist Party promised to weed out corrupt government officials. Instead, it largely used the crackdown to target political enemies.
Over five years later, however, China’s anti-corruption campaign has fallen short. With no meaningful political reform in place and no long-term legal framework introduced to prevent corruption.
Based on these factors one might wonder just how well build the Shandong and China’s New Navy really is?
Also despite the gains in consumer protection in China, the scourge of substandard steel products continues to haunt public safety. Antiquated steel plants supply China’s market with substandard products.
The Associated Press