Thursday, May 24, 2012

China plans to build 2 aircraft carriers

TAIPEI – China’s plans to build two more aircraft carriers, in addition to the first in its fleet, will be a cause of concern for the United States, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and the Philippines, a Taiwan official said on Tuesday.

Joseph Shih-Chie Hua, Cultural and Educational Affairs-Mainland Affairs Council director general, said if completed, the two aircraft carriers would make China “very powerful in the region.”

“If China wants to build two, now they have already one aircraft carrier... at that time I think the Chinese navy probably is very powerful in the region,” he said.

“So not just Taiwan, probably it will cause concern in the United States, Japan, South Korea and even the Philippines,” Hua told journalists from different countries invited by the Taiwan government to meet with President Ma Ying-jeou and other officials.

“If China wants to build three aircraft carriers for combat troops, such move means that they have already changed the strategical map.”

Earlier, Tsai Teh-sheng, Taiwan National Security Bureau chief, said China plans to build two aircraft carriers in addition to the first in its fleet, a refitted former Soviet carrier currently undergoing sea trials.

Construction of the warships is slated to start in 2013 and 2015, with delivery dates in 2020 and 2022, and that they would be conventionally powered, Tsai added.

Tsai said since mid-2011, China had conducted six sea trials of its first carrier.

Taiwan expected it to go into service before the end of this year, Tsai added.

However, Hua said building two aircraft carriers and their maintenance would be too costly for China.

“That’s their toy,” he said.

“Do you know how much money you have to spend building carriers, not just carrier? You need three naval ships to protect this carrier, and under water you need a submarine, now you want to put up a conventional powered aircraft carrier, it’s very expensive.”

“A book I’ve read while I was in college about balance of power, it’s very interesting that we have power on this side and contravening power on the other side. So we have balance of power,” Hua said.

“When China was a weak party it was sticking beside the United States and Soviet Union; when China had trouble with Soviet Union, the United States tried to play the China card; but when the evil empire falls apart what (will) China do, but China found a new role because of economic growth, the second largest economy in the world.

“We do live in interdependent world, not just economically but socially.”

In his inauguration speech last Sunday, Taiwan President Ma said his administration would maintain an “effective deterrent” while pursuing detente with China in the years ahead.
Ties between China and Taiwan have improved significantly since the Beijing-friendly Ma became president in 2008.

China regards Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, although it has governed itself since they separated in 1949 after a long civil war.

Cecille Suerte Felipe | The Philippine Star | May 24, 2012 | Article Link

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