China entered into service Tuesday its first aircraft carrier, a refitted ship purchased from Ukraine. One expert describes it as 'not cutting edge.'
China's Ministry of Defense said the newly named Liaoning aircraft carrier would "raise the overall operational strength of the Chinese navy" and help Beijing to "effectively protect national sovereignty, security, and development interests".
In fact, the aircraft carrier, refitted from a ship bought from Ukraine, will have a limited role, mostly for training and testing ahead of the possible launch of China's first domestically built carriers after 2015, analysts say.
China cast the formal handing over of the carrier to its navy – attended by President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao – as a triumphant show of national strength at a time of tensions with Japan over islands claimed by both sides.
"The smooth commissioning of the first aircraft carrier has important and profound meaning for modernizing our navy and for enhancing national defensive power and the country's overall strength," Xinhua news agency cited Wen as saying at the commissioning ceremony in the northern port of Dalian.
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