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With the launch of its largest and most advanced aircraft carrier China has taken another step toward developing a naval force capable of competing with the U.S. Navy, as concerns grow in Washington that America’s military advantage is being eroded to a dangerous degree.

Rivaling the latest U.S. aircraft carrier in size, the conventionally powered Type 003 — named the Fujian — entered the water on June 17 at a shipyard outside Shanghai. It is expected to join the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in 2024, although it will take longer for it to become fully operational as it must undergo further testing, evaluations and integration with the fleet.

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