The Chinese state news agency Xinhua has revealed pictures of an aircraft carrier Varyag, which is being built at a shipyard in Dalian, China.
The great Varyag is going to be China's first aircraft carrier, Xinhua reported.
China purchased the 67,500-ton Varyag, an unfinished aircraft carrier, at $200 million from Ukraine in 1998 under the pretext of reconstructing the vessel as a maritime hotel. The purpose of the vessel was changed, however, and Beijing will soon launch it as an aircraft carrier.
Xinhua's headline with the photos said: Huge warship on the verge of setting out, fulfilling China's 70-year aircraft carrier dreams. One caption said: A few days ago, domestic online military forums consecutively published photographs of the Varyag aircraft carrier being reconstructed at China's Dalian shipyard. The caption also noted that construction on the ship's bridge was almost done, with the exception of a radar system.
The deployment of the Varyag finally into this mix will certainly add to those concerns. The Varyag would technically allow the Chinese to move air assets further away from their shore, give them additional capabilities within the narrow constraints of the South China Sea, the global intelligence company Stratfor said in a report.
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This is really more about politics rather than about military capabilities at this moment. Certainly, the Chinese will use this to learn, to train, to be able to develop new capabilities. But it's about giving the sense that China has emerged, that China really is no longer just a second-tier country, but economically, politically and militarily, China is one of the big boys now, Stratfor noted in the report.