China: Aircraft Carrier Sea Trials Successful

Posted August 31st, 2011 at 12:45 pm (UTC-5)
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China says its first aircraft carrier achieved its “anticipated objectives” during recent sea trials, as the Philippines and Vietnam seek to counter Beijing's growing naval influence in the western Pacific with military acquisitions of their own.

The official Xinhua news agency quoted China's defense ministry Wednesday as saying the ship is back in port and that further tests on the 300-meter-long vessel will be conducted before it is commissioned.

The sea trial, completed earlier this month, came as China presses its claims on disputed territories in the South China Sea, and the Philippines and Vietnam build their naval fleets to defend their maritime claims in the same areas.

Last week, ahead of a key state visit to China, Philippine President Benigno Aquino inspected the country's newest warship and said it will be deployed to areas where its oil exploration vessels have been confronted by the Chinese navy.

Vietnam last week took ownership of the second of two Russian-made guided missile warships. The first such frigate reached the country in March.

China claims sovereignty over the entire South China Sea, including the Spratly Island archipelago, and has threatened to use military force, if necessary, to protect its interests. The Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei all have counter-claims in the area, which is thought to contain large deposits of oil and natural gas.

China's claims are based on an earlier 20th-century map, with the rival claims based on U.N. accords granting nations exclusive economic zones more than 300 kilometers beyond their coastlines.