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China Says Aircraft Carrier 'Attained Objectives'

Aug. 31, 2011 - 03:45AM   |  
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BEIJING - China's first aircraft carrier "attained the anticipated objectives" during its maiden sea trial earlier this month, the country's defence ministry said Wednesday, state media reported.

The carrier was back at its shipyard where refurbishment and testing would be carried out, Xinhua cited a ministry spokesman as saying.

But no further information was given on the "objectives," the agency added.

The 300-metre (990-foot) ship docked in the northeastern port of Dalian earlier this month after five days of trials that sparked international concern about the country's widening naval reach.

The carrier tests came amid heightened tensions over a number of maritime territorial disputes involving China, notably in the South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas and is claimed at least in part by several countries.

Xinhua said spokesman Yang Yujun told a news briefing that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy's "inshore defense strategy and the defensive nature of the country's national defence policy will not change despite the country's development of advanced weaponry".

The PLA - the world's largest active military - is extremely secretive about its defence programmes, which benefit from a huge and expanding military budget boosted by the nation's runaway economic growth.

Earlier this year, China announced military spending would rise 12.7 percent to 601.1 billion yuan ($91.7 billion) in 2011.

In January it revealed it was developing its first stealth fighter jet. It is also working on an anti-ballistic missile capable of piercing the defences of even the most sturdy U.S. naval ships.

Japan recently expressed concern about what it called the "opaqueness" of China's military budget, and the US State Department has called on the country to explain why it needs an aircraft carrier.

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