The Chinese Navy will likely deploy an aircraft carrier for permanent operations in the South China Sea, where China and other countries in the region are feuding over competing territorial claims, an expert said.
Professor Chu Shulong, the director of the Institute of International Strategic and Development Studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing, told IHS Jane’s that the deployment will likely occur when the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy’s second aircraft carrier is fully operational.
“For the Northern Sea, Yellow Sea, and Eastern Sea, China does not need an aircraft carrier. Chinese land-based [aircraft] are capable of reaching places like the Diaoyu Islands,” Chu said, in reference to the territories also claimed by Japan and known in Tokyo as the Senkaku Islands.
However, the same cannot be said of China’s territories in the South China Sea, the professor told IHS Jane’s on Thursday.
“Should the Americans send their [aircraft] and ships into the South China Sea, China currently does not have the [aerial] capacity to deal with such a challenge,” Chu said.
He added that it will take about an hour for Chinese fighter aircraft from the nearest airbase on Hainan Island to reach the southern regions of the South China Sea.
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