China has launched its second aircraft carrier — and its first ever built domestically. In its bid to develop into a naval power, China is keen on modernizing its weaponry and reportedly plans to increase the number of carriers to at least four. Its neighbors are wary of such moves, particularly the increase in carrier fleets that will supposedly be charged with attacking China's enemies in remote locations.
China's recent naval advances in the East and South China seas are causing friction with Japan and Southeast Asian nations. These developments are incompatible with China's claim to a "peaceful rise" and Beijing's argument that its military buildup is aimed at self-defense. It has an obligation to explain to the international community what kind of power it seeks to become with the buildup of its naval capabilities.
The basic structure of the second aircraft carrier, provisionally known as the Type 001A, is the same as the first carrier, which was originally a Soviet-designed Kuznetsov-class "heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser." China in 1998 purchased the Soviet vessel Varyag, which was 70 percent complete, from Ukraine and later started refitting it in Dalian, Liaoning province. The refitting was completed in 2011 and it was renamed the Liaoning in 2012. The second carrier, built in Dalian with a displacement of 50,000 tons, is slightly smaller than the Liaoning, which has a displacement of 67,000 tons. According to a Chinese media report, however, the new vessel will be capable of carrying more aircraft than the Liaoning.