China needs more aircraft carriers for national security: analysts

The development of four or more aircraft carriers is only natural in order to satisfy China’s burgeoning national security needs, Chinese military analysts said on Thursday as the country’s second carrier is close to commissioning and a third under construction.

The comments followed a report which said China might build a fourth aircraft carrier.

When asked to comment on media reports about the construction of a third aircraft carrier and whether the development of a fourth had started, Ren Guoqiang, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense, told the Global Times at a routine press conference on Thursday that China’s carrier development was a strategic decision.

Future development will depend on economic growth, national security threats and national defense needs, Ren said.

The third carrier is under construction at Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, China Central Television reported this month.

The Chinese navy is planning a fourth in 2021, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported on Thursday.

Neither the Defense Ministry nor the navy has ever announced the development of a third or fourth carrier.

Ren’s remarks could be seen as an indication that new carriers are planned, a military expert who asked not to be named told the Global Times on Thursday.

China’s economy is growing stably with growing overseas investments that require military strength to be protected, the expert said, noting China faces potential naval threats in the south, east and northeast.

China’s two current carriers are conventionally powered and use old-fashioned ski jump decks, making them less powerful than their US counterparts, Chinese analysts said, predicting newer Chinese carriers will feature a flat deck, electromagnetic catapults and eventually nuclear power.

Answering a question about the second aircraft carrier and if it will be based in Sanya, South China’s Hainan Province, Ren said everything was going smoothly and a final time for commissioning will be decided depending on comprehensive progress.

The deployment location of the carrier will be determined by security threats and national defense needs, Ren said, noting that it was not related to the regional situation nor any specific target, country or region.