China's first aircraft carrier was handed over on Sunday to the navy of the People's Liberation Army, state press said, amid rising tensions over disputed waters in the East and South China Seas.
The handover ceremony of the 300-metre ship, a former Soviet carrier called the Varyag, took place in north-east China's port of Dalian after a lengthy refitting by a Chinese shipbuilder, the Global Times reported.
During the handover ceremony the aircraft carrier raised the Chinese national flag on its mast, the PLA flag on its bow and the navy's colours on its stern, the short online report said. A ceremony to place the ship into active service would be held sometime in the future, the paper said without elaboration.
The announcement comes at a time of heightened tensions over maritime disputes in the Asia-Pacific region, where China's growing assertiveness has put it on a collision course with Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines.