China’s advanced Fujian aircraft carrier ready to start sea trials this year, a boost for military capacity
- The country’s newest carrier is viewed as central to Xi Jinping’s goal of returning the country to the forefront of global powers by 2049
- The vessel is expected to have a major presence in the Taiwan Strait
“In the new year, we must take hold of all the work centred on the sea trials and contribute to realising the army’s [Two Centenaries] goals,” said Qian Shumin in a video address shared on Tuesday.
After launching in June, the ship is now being fitted out at the Jiangnan Shipyard near Shanghai, while simultaneous mooring trials were begun in September to reduce the time until delivery.
The fit-out process – when construction is completed and the ship is prepared for delivery – follows the vessel’s launch and comes before sea trials. Mooring trials test the systems on a vessel – how they work individually as well as together – from power propulsion to mechanical equipment.
“President Xi [Jinping] specifically mentioned the launch of the Fujian in his New Year’s message. As a member of the Fujian ship, we are deeply proud and honoured,” Qian said, referring to the vessel appearing on Xi’s shortlist of China’s achievements over the past year.
The Fujian is expected to have a major presence in the Taiwan Strait, an issue Xi also addressed on Saturday.
“The people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are members of one and the same family. I sincerely hope that our compatriots on both sides of the strait will work together with a unity of purpose to jointly foster lasting prosperity of the Chinese nation,” Xi said.
The Fujian will play a significant role in any military conflict in the strait. where there have been rising tensions with the US over recent months.
According to a statement last week from the Japanese Ministry of Defence’s Joint Staff Office, the Liaoning group was spotted 670km (416 miles) southeast of Okinotorishima, the southernmost part of Japan, and about 618km northwest of Guam, then it returned to waters between Taiwan and Japan.
Japan also said that for 10 days from December 17, Chinese carrier-based aircraft conducted about 260 take-offs and landings.