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India should focus on development, not on building aircraft carriers: Chinese media

LiveMint logoLiveMint 24-04-2017 K. J. M. Varma

Beijing: India should focus less on speeding up the process of building aircraft carriers to contain China in the Indian ocean and more on its economic development, Chinese official media said on Monday.

“New Delhi is perhaps too impatient to develop an aircraft carrier. The country is still in its initial stage of industrialisation, and there will be many technical obstacles that stand in the way of a build-up of aircraft carriers,” an article in the state-run Global Times said.

“In the past few decades, India and China have taken different paths in terms of aircraft carriers, but the different results achieved by the two countries point to the underlying importance of economic development,” it said.

“New Delhi should perhaps be less eager to speed up the process of building aircraft carriers in order to counter China’s growing sway in the Indian Ocean, and focus more on its economy,” it said. China on Sunday celebrated 68th anniversary of the establishment of its navy amid massive expansion of its fleet.

A fleet of three Chinese naval ships left Shanghai in the morning for a friendly visit to more than 20 countries in Asia, Europe and Africa. “With the expansion of foreign trade, as well as China’s ‘One Belt and One Road’ initiative, the Chinese navy has taken on a new mission, which is to protect the country’s overseas interests,” a report in the same daily said.

As a consequence, China’s military strategy for the navy has changed and it must increase its presence overseas to meet the new requirements, military expert Song Zhongping said. As a signature achievement of the navy, the Liaoning aircraft carrier built from an empty hull of former Soviet ship has finished its blue sea training, he said.

While the Chinese navy flexed muscle with massive expansion of overseas with new “logistic” based in Gwadar in Pakistan and Djibouti in the Indian Ocean, the Chinese official media sought to project India deploying aircraft carriers decades ahead of China in a negative light.

“As the world’s second-largest economy, China is now capable of building a strong navy to safeguard the security of strategic maritime channels. China’s construction of its first aircraft carrier is a result of economic development,” an article in the Global Times said.

“The country would have finished work on it several years ago if Beijing had simply wanted to engage in an arms race to have more influence in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions,” the article said in defence of China deploying its first aircraft carrier in 1912.

“India itself could be taken as a negative example for a build-up of aircraft carriers,” it said. Unlike China, India operated the aircraft carrier since 1961. INS Vikrant which was purchased as an incomplete carrier in 1957 played a key role in enforcing the naval blockade of the East Pakistan in 1971 before it was decommissioned in 1997.

Its successor INS Virat that was commissioned in 1987 has just been decommissioned this month after an eventful four decades of service. It was succeeded by INS Vikramaditya, a modified version of Russian ship Admiral Gorshikov, which became operational in 2013. The second INS Vikrant being built in Cochin Shipyard is expected to be ready by 2018. PTI

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