China’s first home-built aircraft carrier was commissioned into active service by President Xi Jinping at a military base on the edge of the South China Sea, the latest milestone in the country’s endeavors to rapidly modernize its military and become a world-class naval power, reported the Wall Street Journal.
In its flagship evening newscast on Tuesday, state broadcaster China Central Television aired footage of Xi clambering aboard the warship in a commissioning ceremony attended by some 5,000 soldiers and officials at a naval base in Sanya, on the southern island of Hainan.
The commissioning of the carrier, named Shandong after the eastern Chinese province, also represents the first time China has deployed an aircraft carrier in the contested waters, where Beijing has asserted territorial claims.
“Aircraft carriers are symbolic of a country’s military strength,” CCTV said. “Our country may have started late, but our development momentum is swift. After the first home-built aircraft carrier, there will be more and more advanced carriers to follow.”