30 Juli 2011
At present, nine countries -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia, Spain, Italy, Brazil, India and Thailand -- have a total of 20 aircraft carriers of varying capacities in service. (image : Xinhua)
China needs at least three aircraft carriers: general
BEIJING - CHINA needs at least three aircraft carriers to defend its interests, a general said, days after the state media broadcast footage of its first carrier in a rare public mention of the project.
'If we consider our neighbours, India will have three aircraft carriers by 2014 and Japan will have three carriers by 2014,' General Luo Yuan, a senior researcher with the Academy of Military Sciences, was quoted as saying by Beijing News.
'So I think the number (for China) should not be less than three so we can defend our rights and our maritime interests effectively.' His comments, published on Friday, came after China sought to downplay the capability of its first aircraft carrier, saying on Wednesday the vessel would be used for training and 'research'.
Beijing believes that the three Japanese carriers it referred to, built for helicopter operations, could eventually be converted into full aircraft carriers.
China recently confirmed it was revamping an old Soviet ship to be its first carrier, a project that has added to regional worries over the country's fast military expansion and growing assertiveness on territorial issues.
'We are currently re-fitting the body of an old aircraft carrier, and will use it for scientific research, experiments and training,' defence ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng told a news briefing.