A Shanghai shipbuilder has denied reports it will build an aircraft carrier, but analysts say the mainland has made no secret of its desire to develop a 'blue water' navy amid tensions with Taiwan and Japan. The vice-chairman of Jiangnan Shipyard, Huang Ping , described recent reports as 'sheer fabrication', although he said the company did have the capability to build the body of an aircraft carrier. Taiwan's Central News Agency this week quoted a mainland website as saying Jiangnan would formally start work on the project on August 2, the day after the anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army, which Beijing uses to showcase military force. 'There is no plan so far. If you talk about capability, we have the ability to build the hull. Isn't it just a ship of several tens of thousands of tonnes?' Mr Huang asked. 'But [an aircraft carrier] involves many different problems, not just the hull. We still don't have enough hardware qualifications.' A mainland official in charge of military hardware production offered a similar denial last month. Jiangnan is Shanghai's oldest shipbuilder. Reports say the aircraft carrier will use Russian technology, including the radar system and steam turbines to power the engines. The ship, which will be able to travel at a maximum speed of 30 knots, will carry 54 fighter planes and 13 helicopters, they say. Wendell Minnick, a Jane's Defence Weekly correspondent in Taiwan, said the mainland needed aircraft carriers to maintain sufficient force to face the United States. 'China's ultimate desire is to create a blue water navy capable of challenging US naval dominion over the Pacific. The development of an aircraft carrier is the cornerstone of this goal,' he said. In a policy white paper on national defence last year, the government set a target of improving the navy's long-range strike capability and developing new combat ships. 'The navy has expanded the space and extended the depth for offshore defensive operations. Preparation for [the] maritime battlefield has intensified and improved, while integrated combat capabilities are enhanced in conducting offshore campaigns,' it said.