China must speed up its efforts and improve its technology for building large naval ships and related weapons-production systems, the naval chief said yesterday. Admiral Wu Shengli of the People's Liberation Army Navy told Xinhua: 'We should speed up the building of key naval weapons, including large surface ships, new types of submarines with excellent endurance and stealth capabilities, new generation fighter jets, accurate and powerful long-range missiles and deep-diving, rapid torpedoes. 'We have to upgrade our technologies to push our new generation of weapons and enter a new stage.' The PLA navy had already begun building its first aircraft carrier, military observers have noted, saying it will probably be launched in 2012, in a Tianjin shipyard. General Wu's comments come in the run-up to the PLA Navy's 60th anniversary, on April 23. Xinhua has reported that some sophisticated naval weapons will be revealed in an unprecedented sea parade in Qingdao, Shandong province, next week. Many military observers have speculated that President Hu Jintao would formally announce China's aircraft carrier project as a 'gift' to the PLA navy on the anniversary. But a Shanghai-based military expert said such an announcement by Mr Hu this year would be unlikely, since Beijing only makes such declarations when it is sure it can meet the promised deadline 'But I can tell you that China started the aircraft carrier project - producing many interior components - a few years ago,' he said. 'Shipbuilding experts have already finished the blueprint and other related design work. We expect the first aircraft carrier to be launched in 2012, and the full fighting group, including other supply ships, to be finished in 2015.' The expert - who visited Tianjin to see the unfinished Russian aircraft carrier hull, the Varyag, that China bought over a decade ago - said shipbuilding experts had overcome many difficulties in the past year. The Varyag's hull was brought by a Macau tourism company from a Ukrainian shipyard in 1998. In addition to shipyards in Tianjin, the expert said, others in Dalian, Liaoning province, and Wuhan, Hubei province, as well as two in Shanghai, were all capable of building aircraft carriers because of their comprehensive facilities. 'China learned how to build components in different plants and assemble them centrally in the course of various giant projects - such as the Daqing oilfield project, building the two atomic bombs and the satellite programme in the 1960s,' he said. 'It is a typical, traditional approach advocated in the centralised, planned economies of communist countries, because it brings all our advantages into play.' Last month, a US government report said China's stated ambition to build an aircraft carrier taskforce before 2015 was unlikely to be realised since the nation's steel production technology still fell below top international standards. Further, it noted, Beijing's attempt to acquire Russian Su-33 fighter jets as carrier planes had been rejected by Moscow. But Andrei Chang, chief editor of the Canada-based Kanwa Defence Review, said the report had failed to reflect the true state of China's shipbuilding technologies. 'All the technical problems can be overcome because China is now the second-biggest shipbuilding country in the world,' Mr Chang said. 'I think China could finish its first aircraft carrier in time.'