• Sat
  • Dec 20, 2014
  • Updated: 4:37pm

Aircraft carrier Liaoning

China's first aircraft carrier went into commission on September 26, 2012 and was named "Liaoning" after the northeastern province. The 300-metre ship, refurbished and upgraded from the unfinished Soviet carreir Varyag, which China bought from Ukraine in 1998, is believed to be years away from active service. 


Chuck Hagel kicks off China visit with rare glimpse of Liaoning aircraft carrier

US defence chief becomes first foreign official to be welcomed aboard China's first aircraft carrier

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 April, 2014, 5:29pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 April, 2014, 10:11am

US defence chief Chuck Hagel was given a rare tour of China's first aircraft carrier as he kicked off a three-day visit yesterday.

He became the first foreign official to go on board the Liaoning after arriving in the port city of Qingdao, getting a glimpse of Beijing's growing military strength and ambition.

Observers said the visit was a response to increasing concern in Washington about the lack of transparency surrounding China's military build-up. Hagel was invited to China by Defence Minister Chang Wanquan, but the inspection was arranged at Washington's request, said a senior US official.

Watch: Hagel arrives in China for a three-day trip

Hagel and a small number of his staff spent about two hours on the ship at Yuchi Naval Base, a US official said. Hagel received a briefing about the carrier and then toured its medical facilities, living quarters, flight deck, bridge, and flight control station. He also had refreshments with junior officers in the dining area.

"The secretary was very pleased with his visit today aboard the carrier Liaoning," said Pentagon press secretary Admiral John Kirby. "He hopes today's visit is a harbinger for other opportunities to improve our military-to-military dialogue and transparency."

Hagel said in Tokyo on Sunday that Beijing should respect neighbours anxious over its stance on territorial disputes.

Beijing has not hit back at Hagel's comments and the PLA Daily said yesterday that his visit would help remove obstacles to improving the relationship between the two nations' militaries.

"It is helpful in suppressing attempts by a few nations to utilise and 'create' conflicts between China and the US for their selfish gains and to bring a positive impact in regional peace and stability," the article said.

Observers said the carrier visit was a crucial step after the US and China had agreed to establish regular dialogue between their armies and to take part in more multinational military drills.

Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based naval expert, said: "By allowing Hagel to visit the carrier, which is sensitive in nature, China is showing sincerity."

Wang Fan, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, said the move may help reduce criticism of China's military ambitions. "By allowing the carrier visit, China is saying that it has nothing to hide about its military modernisation," he said.

China is saying that it has nothing to hide about its military modernisation
Ni Lexiong, naval expert

The relationship is often troubled by mutual distrust. Beijing fears its leverage in territorial disputes in both the East and South China seas will be lost as Washington strengthens its military presence in the region. Hagel reaffirmed this in Tokyo by promising to send two more missile defence ships to Japan.

Zhu Feng, director of the International Security Programme at Peking University, said: "The competition triggered by China's demand to maintain territorial sovereignty and the US desire to keep its dominant position in the region is not going to be eased and this has triggered the possibility of military clashes. They need to find ways to contain such a possibility."

Yue Gang, a retired colonel, said the carrier inspection showed China was confident about its military capability.

"Some say the aircraft carrier is just a 'paper tiger' because it is not fully operational. But China wouldn't show it to the US defence chief if it was not sophisticated enough," he said.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse


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This article is now closed to comments

How sad. Showing off second-hand Soviet scrap.
I don't think the US wants to steal anything off that old rust bucket. Probably checking the CIA warehouses to see if the weaknesses in the old carrier can still be exploited when it was still flying the flag of the Soviet Union.
Chuck's diplomacy must have been tested to the limit just trying to keep a straight face
Chucky is doing what he is told, he barely made it to the job and out there best justifying his existence. CCP won't shoot the messenger.
How About
More likely old Chuck was shown the door and got his entire China itinerary-agenda cancelled because of the wrong advisory in his speech. And since he's miles away from the Beijing embassy so he asked to inspect the Liaoning to save face instead!
PLA is only too happy to oblige him with a tour on a piece of museum metal used to suss out and spec on the next generation aircraft carrier.
CCP is always the mandarin and the good host they have been for 7,500 years.
實則虛之,虛則實之,Chuck’s hairs keep falling when he scratches his head hard in wondering whether the gadgets he saw is packed or empty.
How About
Nahh, being such good host the Chinese would have let Chuck and Max take closeups carte blanche of the made-in-Shenyang ChangFeng 98, 99 and the C911 at the Liaoning, which are improved versions of the US Navy's HQ-9a, MIM105 and Akashi Theatre missile defence system.
Even they are not the attache with Chuck will doctor the images just to go ballistic with the KBR director of R&D and director of NSA...
Toast to another great invention this Apachenet, morphing into the WWW, shaving trillions off R&D!
Third error, the United States and the EU should have stuck to the original agreement, even to restore Mr. Yanukovych to the Presidency of Ukraine and wait until new elections in May. There was much better than 50% chance that Ukrainians themselves would have elected a new pro-EU and pro-American president, whereby Ukraine would not have to lose Crimea and would still have joined the EU with minimal delay. The fact of the matter is that Ukraine got itself into this situation due to internal political conflict and strive, though through relentless strong-arming and strong instigation by the West. The EU and US should have been more patient and far-sighted. They should have backed down and cut Ukraine some slack rather than arrogantly pressing Ukraine with ultimatums regarding joining the EU . Its clear that if the West wants to contain Russia, American or Nato’s control of the Black Sea and the Crimea via this newly installed government, as a proxy perhaps, is definitely a game changer of a move. However, in their prudish haste and uncontrolled zeal to achieve this strategic advantage the West has clumsily created a consummate and unnecessary mess in that part of the world, a mess that will have deep global and long lasting reverberations and consequences which will not necessarily benefit but may well hurt the West.
Jennie PC Chiang/江佩珍 04/08/14 美國
One day they may be able to launch airplanes from that aircraft carrier. Heck, they may even be able to land one on it, too.
“increasing concern in Washington
about the lack of transparency
surrounding China's military build-up”?
Any transparency from the stealth X-37B and OTV-N
to the illegal transfer of the “administration”
of west Pacific islands outside Japan’s sovereignty to Japan?
The US has never even attempted to “justify”
why the defiance of the terms of Japan’s defeat in WW2
that the nation may survive
only in its 4 islands
and immediate vicinity
The status quo is illegal, irrational and therefore unstable
It’s based on hegemonic US’ unilateral alternation
of the peace terms needed to rein in militarist Japan



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