China building aircraft carrier: Mao's grandson

The Mao junior, who has been a strong advocate of the Chinese navy acquiring the big ships to counter US naval superiority confirmed that Chinese marine forces were building a carrier, without specifying its tonnage.

"As a General, I was very interested in the development of the Second Artillery Corps and our Marine forces. I am glad to know that the marines are constructing the first aircraft carrier," the General was quoted as saying by the web edition of the state run 'Global Times' today.

Despite building a strong navy with a host of warships and submarines, China so far did not have an aircraft carrier and speculation has been rife in the West that Beijing is building one, but there was no confirmation so far.

Recently, influential Japanese daily 'The Asahi Shimbun' had said that China would produce its first aircraft carrier within five years.

US naval intelligence sources have said that China is building two 50,000-60,000 ton aircraft carriers to be equipped with Russian SU-22 fighters. These are expected to be ready by 2015.

There have also been reports that China may opt to build nuclear powered carriers. There is a steady build of public opinion by official media in recent weeks for developing carriers in the light of steady rise in military tensions in the Korean peninsula as well as China's plans to build dominant blue water navy on the lines of its rival US.

According to US sources, China is almost ready to deploy its 1500 kms range anti-ship carrier killer missile, capable of destroying aircraft carriers from a long distance.

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