China launches second aircraft carrier
China on Wednesday launched a new aircraft carrier, boosting its military presence amid rising tensions in the region.
It is the country's second aircraft carrier, after the Liaoning, and the first to be made domestically. The state media said the unnamed ship was "transferred from dry dock into the water" in the northeastern port of Dalian in Liaoning province. Previous reports said it would be operational by 2020.
It comes amid heated rhetoric between the US and North Korea in recent days.
China has had only one operational aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which it bought from Ukraine and refitted. It was commissioned into the Chinese Navy in 2012, BBC reported. The US has deployed warships and a submarine to the Korean peninsula, prompting an angry reaction from North Korea whereas China has urged calm.
There is also the ongoing issue of competing territorial claims in the South China Sea.
The new carrier will deploy Shenyang J-15 fighter jets, but is considered by many military observers to be technologically inferior to the 10 carriers used by the US navy.
The new carrier is touted as a significant upgrade from the Liaoning, which was built more than 25 years ago and is a refurbished ship from the days of the Soviet Union.
China began building its second carrier in November 2013. Dock construction started in March 2015, Xinhua news agency reported.
The main body of the carrier has been completed, with equipment of major systems, including propulsion and electricity installed. After the launch, the new carrier will undergo equipment debugging, outfitting and comprehensive mooring trials.
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