Chinese Defense Officials said its first aircraft carrier is only used for research, experiments and training. China has been in the process of refurbishing the empty hull of the Varyag which was purchased at an auction in 1998.
Asked about media reports that the vessel would be launched on Aug. 1, China’s Army Day, he said: “There is not a question of when this ship is launched, because it has been in the water all along. As for the precise timetable for the ship beginning sea trials, it will be decided according to the schedule of the refurbishment project.”
He also dismissed a question suggesting that China’s sudden relative openness about the carrier was linked to recent tensions in the South China Sea, where China has conflicting territorial claims with Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei, and has warned the U.S. to stop reconnaissance operations.
Meanwhile Taiwan officials acknowledged the need to learn more about the capabilities of the carrier. From the Focus Taiwan:
“When the mainland starts to deploy its second or third aircraft carriers, then we will really have to worry,” he said.
But Lan Ning-li, a retired navy vice admiral, said Taiwan’s military must now begin to face a litmus test from China by watching how it trains.”