Asia PacificSea

China Says Building Fourth Aircraft Carrier

China is in the process of developing its fourth aircraft carrier to rival the US fleet in the western Pacific, a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy admiral has announced.

Speaking during an annual legislative meeting in Beijing, PLA Navy political commissar Yuan Huazhi claimed that progress is on track and he had not heard of any “technical bottleneck” regarding the development.

He also said the public would soon find out if the new carrier would be nuclear-powered, just like some of the most advanced warships in the US Navy inventory.

To date, only the US and French navies have nuclear-powered carriers. This allows them to carry out missions for extended periods without refueling.

“We are building aircraft carriers to protect our national sovereignty and to protect our territorial integrity,” he stressed, as quoted by the South China Morning Post.

Prior to the announcement, illustrations of the fourth aircraft carrier being built at the Jiangnan shipyard in Shanghai surfaced online.

Latest Aircraft Carrier

Yuan’s announcement comes nearly two years after Beijing launched its third aircraft carrier, the Fujian.

Despite touting it as the country’s most advanced warship, the Fujian is not nuclear-powered because Beijing reportedly had insufficient naval nuclear reactor technology during its development.

Nonetheless, the aircraft carrier boasts advanced features, such as electromagnetic catapults and arresting devices to launch heavier and larger fixed-wing aircraft.

The Fujian has yet to undergo sea trials.

Blue-Water Ambitions

China’s recent maritime developments are in line with its ambition to develop a modern, “blue-water” navy within the next decade.

Blue-water status is achieved when a maritime force is capable of carrying out sustained operations across deep waters.

The force must also have more than one aircraft carrier projecting power far from home.

Despite its growing size, the PLA Navy is still regarded as a “green-water navy,” operating mostly near its shores.

Featured photo: Zhang Lei/

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