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China’s possession of aircraft carriers is not a matter of if but when. Last November, an official in China’s Ministry of National Defense touched for the first time in a public venue on the possibility of his nation acquiring aircraft carriers.

China has purchased three carriers built by the former Soviet Union and one built by Australia, gaining an opportunity to study their structures. One of those, the Varyag, was supposed to serve as a floating casino in Macao, but it is now moored at a shipyard in Dalian, where it has been painted the same gray as other naval vessels, and an angled deck has been installed. The Varyag does not have engines and cannot be deployed as China’s first aircraft carrier, but it can be used for research/training purposes.

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