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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

China's carrier plan should not affect regional peace: U.S.

Central News Agency

2011/08/11 12:36:23

By Zep Hu and Sofia Wu

Washington, Aug. 10 (CNA) China's aircraft carrier ambitions should not threaten regional security and stability, the U.S. Department of Defense said Wednesday.

"We hope that China's carrier ambitions will not adversely affect regional security and stability," the Pentagon's press office said in an e-mail response to a CNA inquiry about sea trials of China's first aircraft carrier earlier that day.

"China's development of an aircraft carrier is not a surprise, and these operations are in line with our expectations," the Pentagon said in the statement.

Noting that sea trials represent a first step in achieving an operational capability, the Pentagon said there are many critical hurdles ahead of China's aircraft carrier development project.

"China has initiated a land-based training program for pilots and carrier aircraft, but it will take several years for the PLA (People's Liberation Army) to effectively operate aircraft from a carrier," the Pentagon said.

It also pointed out that due to China's persistent lack of transparency regarding its long-term goals and objectives, China's investment in aircraft carriers is likely to fuel regional concerns about Beijing's long-term military strategy and aims.

Echoing the Pentagon, the U.S. Department of State said Wednesday it would like China to explain why it needs an aircraft carrier amid broader concerns about Beijing's lack of transparency over its military objectives.

"We would welcome any kind of explanation that China would like to give for needing this kind of equipment," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters when asked whether the carrier would raise regional tensions.

"This is part of our larger concern that China is not as transparent as other countries. It's not as transparent as the United States about its military acquisitions, about its military budget," she said.

"And we'd like to have the kind of open, transparent relationship in military-to-military affairs," Nuland said.

"In our military-to-military relations with many countries around the world, we have the kind of bilateral dialogue where we can get quite specific about the equipment that we have and its intended purposes and its intended movements," she said.

Beijing only recently confirmed it was revamping an old Soviet Union-era ship to be its first carrier and has sought to play down the vessel's capability, saying it will mainly be used for training and research.

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