China's first aircraft carrier sets sail

Sept. 25, 2012 at 1:21 PM
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BEIJING, Sept. 25 (UPI) -- China Tuesday christened its first aircraft carrier, a sign of what critics termed the country's growing military strength but also a waste of money.

China does not have any planes capable of landing on the carrier, which will be used for the time being for training and testing, The New York Times reported.

The vessel, a refurbished Ukraine aircraft carrier, is being put into service during two important events. The once-a-decade transition of power at the top position of the Community Party gets underway next month and China is already trading diplomatic shots with Japan over the ownership of tiny islands in the East China Sea.

Analysts said it's unlikely the carrier will ever see combat.

You Ji, a visiting senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore, said the vessel was "useless."

"If it is used against America, it has no survivability. If it is used against China's neighbors, it's a sign of bullying," he said.

He added that China's neighbor, Vietnam, has 230 land-based aircraft that could cripple the ship. "If the carrier is damaged by the Vietnamese, it's a huge loss of face," You said. "It's not worth it."

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