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The China’s Aircraft Carrier Liaoning Term Paper

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Updated: May 13th, 2020


Named after the northeastern province, China’s first aircraft carrier, “Liaoning” was commissioned on September 26, 2012; it attracted negative sentiments from the US and UK. They claimed that China had shrouded the entire program in secrecy to create a naval force to rival them (Legge, 2014, p. 14). The US and UK had plowed billions of dollars to ensure that they remain with the most advanced navies in the world. The world superpower feared that the entry of Liaoning might shift the world’s attention to China due to strong naval strength. Notably, its entry has made replacement of major aircraft carriers like USS Enterprise and HMS Illustrious inevitable. China’s first aircraft carrier has entered the region at a time when there have been heightened tensions in the South China Sea.

Re-building the ex-Soviet aircraft carrier Varyag was a technological breakthrough for China in 2013 after its purchase in 1998 (Legge, 2014, p. 14). Recently, the Chinese government acquired the vessel from Israel, rebuilt it, and performed various tests at the Sanya Islands of Hainan, China. This equally provided an opportunity to seek long-term solutions to the problem. The Chinese need an avenue to exercise power by owning one of the world’s largest warships. The US accused China of acting irresponsibly during the standoff. With numerous allegations of reverse engineering from Russia and India, the country had to take long to acquire equipment like arrestor system, as Russia was the likely supplier in the region.

Further, China’s negotiations with Ukraine about a Su-33 prototype also strained her relations with Russia as well as Taiwan (Legge, 2014, p. 14). China had earlier allowed Russia to provide materials for the aircraft carrier program, only to renege on the pledge. The carrier ship contains war equipment that contains chemical components. The purpose of this submission is to analyze Liaoning critically and its implications on the zone, the region of the South China Sea. Also, it will present a comprehensive literature review that compares the liner’s current information and previous documentations.

With China expecting to upgrade her naval strength to modern levels, the urge to raise the fighting capacity has made neighboring countries to feel threatened by the move. With a fast-growing maritime rivalry between the US and China, the Liaoning has made China more powerful in the international waters. Since many nations have territorial claims in the region, there are high possibilities of confrontations and tensions between China and countries like Vietnam and the Philippines. This is highly likely given that China intends to locate other carriers in the Southern China Sea. The operation of Liaoning could have a vital control on the maritime disputes that face the expansive region, especially the blazing differences in the South China Sea. The aircraft carrier is attracting the world’s attention on how China is moving fast at consolidating and using its power (“China reportedly starts building,” 2014, p. 6). Liaoning is a prominent machine that is modest and incremental in its capacities; this has instilled courage in the Chinese government, as they can safeguard their sovereignty, address disputes on territories, and non-traditional security threats.


General Objective

This represents the overall goal of the submission. The general outlook of the paper is to investigate China’s aircraft carrier “Liaoning” and its implications on the zone.

Specific Objectives

Specific objectives of the discussion include:

  1. To determine the reasons for rebuilding the Liaoning
  2. To assess negative implications of the carrier liner to the region

Specific objects are in-depth and analyze the case from various perspectives. Therefore, specific objectives create room for rational thinking during the investigation.

Literature Review

Even after the Chinese National Defense and PLA officer Li Daguang asserted that the timing of the Liaoning had nothing to do with Japan, the US and the neighbors, but only to help in resolving the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands dispute, the South China Sea neighbors like Vietnam remained worried (“Work on New Chinese Aircraft,” 2014, p. A4). For example, Vietnam, with the lose of conflicts over the islands under dispute in 1974 and 1988 still fresh; it felt that the vulnerable border would make it easy for China to interfere with their sovereignty. In the early confrontations, China lacked imperative air support, but currently, it has undeniable airpower from sea and land with the launch of Liaoning. Hanoi fears that with the lack of US alliance, it can easily suffer defeats at the hands of the Chinese forces in case of a third clash.

Still, in the case of Vietnam, the commissioning and use of Liaoning have sent shivers to Vietnam’s forces. According to Admiral Chen, the aircraft carrier has increased efficiency at war, thus making it difficult for the Vietnamese aircraft to dare take off in case of another war. With all the tensions from the US, South Korea, Russia, India, Vietnam, and Japan, the Chinese media holds that the aircraft carrier has no effect on the sovereignty of other nations and international security, and there is no need for alarm (“China reportedly starts building,” 2014, p. 6). Critics, on the other hand, argue that China has not done enough to prove that Liaoning will assist in defending regional stability and promoting world peace. These factors remain the greatest concerns for the neighbors at the Southern China Sea and the Western nations; strengthening of the military using the aircraft carrier is a way of strategizing for war outbreaks.

The introduction of the aircraft carrier symbolizes China’s growing naval power; this has made neighboring countries with territorial disputes and the West raise concerns on the country’s intentions and objectives with the naval ship. From a historical perspective, there have been numerous confrontations between China and the US, on the one hand, and China and Vietnam, on the other hand; therefore, developments gearing towards strengthening the Chinese Military must raise eyebrows from the outside quarters. From the articles, it is evident that China-friendly media publishers try to bring out the US and other pundits having a contrary opinion with China as mere antagonists who only act to benefit themselves. Media houses in the West, on the other hand, present Liaoning as a great threat to the world if its operations are not monitored keenly. The media news tries to persuade the public to believe their points of view on different controversial issues.

Coupled with the introduction of the Liaoning, the Southeastern part of China should prepare for futuristic consequences of such actions. According to the (Phillips, 2014, p. 12), the Liaoning carries weaponry, warplanes, and missiles of mass destruction. Many neighboring states, including Thailand, raised concerns about the safety measures taken during the Liaoning launching process in 2013. Phillips (2014, p. 13) confirm that the Chinese government spent only $166 Billion in rebuilding the carrier vessel. The government also spent one year to complete the project leading to the testing process in 2013. According to prior sources, the Liaoning was overly rusty before the Chinese government acquired it from the Soviet Union. The time taken to rebuild a thirty-year-old ship was too short. Critics mention that the original version of the Liaoning, the Varyag took an exceptionally long time for the Soviet to build. It was irrelevant for China to carry out a similar exercise in just one year. China seeks to train its military by owning one carrier ship that has all the equipment used by the Soviet during WWII. There is a high possibility that the carrier ship will carry out many activities in comparison to other carrier ships in the US used mainly for war.

The Chinese government responded to this issue by assuring the public that it would develop Type 001A aircraft carriers. Countries such as Japan, South Korea, and Thailand are overly curious about such expansion plans. Japan still recalls the events of Pearl Harbor, and the Liaoning reminds the Japanese of the war that led to the death of the highest number of people. Moreover, the Japanese still experience the adverse effects of the chemicals used during the warring period. Following technological advancements, the neighboring countries fear that weapons in the Liaoning and other 21st-century carrier liners are likely to be extremely lethal. In summary, The Chinese need to control the tests carried out by the carrier liner, and avoid the possibility of engaging other countries in war. This will be a national sacrifice to safeguard the interests of the public and future generations.


Faced with immense pressure from international organizations, China asserted that the weapons in the aircraft carrier are solely for defense purposes, meant to keep intruders at bay (Legge, 2014, p. 14). With the US Navy being the only foreign navy that can counter the expansive China Navy, the regional neighbors feel threatened by the design and commissioning of the Liaoning. The western Pacific neighbors remain skeptical about the intentions of China in building the largest aircraft career; there are possibilities of the continuous standoff in the discussed zone. Announcements by China to introduce flight restrictions over the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) has further worsened the relations between China and the neighbors, such as Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea (Snowden, 2014, p. S7). The neighbors believe that China will use the Liaoning to control the uninhabited regions, including Senkaku Islands, Sokotra Rock/Suyan Jiao, and Diaoyu Islands.

Even though China may claim to use the aircraft carrier for self-defense, an analysis from the regional and international front speculates that the country is attempting to match the US naval power and remain in full control of the entire China Sea as well. Historiography explains how the past shapes the future. People take precautions after experiencing the consequences of an action in the past. Naturally, individuals improve certain societal habits because they would add value to future generations if society makes certain alterations. However, they discard aspects that deter communal progress and are likely to support the extinction of an entire community. Newton emphasizes on the Japanese case while drifting focus from the mainland. From a historiography perspective, the two countries share almost a similar terrain and geographic conditions. If Japan still faces the effects of the war, China would equally make the subsequent generations to suffer.

According to the literature review, most articles rarely address the importance of the liner to the Chinese. The Liaoning is a significant innovation for the Chinese, and currently the community focuses on the benefits it would bring to society. The Chinese are less verbose characters in comparison to their counterparts in the US. This explains why Americans are quick to criticize the Chinese for rebuilding the Liaoning. Even though Mark compliments the Chinese for exploring nuclear energy for this project, the author does not recognize the attachment the Chinese people have on the Liaoning. (Snowden, 2014, p. S7) fails to recognize that power struggles often cause residents of countries to make negative comments about the progress of their rivals.


The literature review should accompany comprehensive ethnographic studies. This helps to reinforce information initially generated by researchers. Similarly, it would be incredibly difficult to focus on one of the researchers dealing with this issue. They have mixed reactions concerning the establishment of the aircraft carrier even though all of them present many negative implications the liner has on the neighbors and the West. Through ethnographic, people could easily generate facts and understand the underlying problem. China’s territorial expansion and the development of weapons to assert their claims have coincided with the building of Liaoning. The US interprets the move as a military competition to match their level. From the aspect of financial spending, China has tripled its military spending over the past ten years, thus moving to almost a third of the US spending on the military. The United States’ worry is China’s progress in the military front as attempts that can falter the economy. To the US, the new warships are not more of a threat as compared to the missiles that China is developing.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, refuted, claims that the aircraft carrier is a threat to the US. He added that building and operating such a ship is challenging, and requires scalable funding to maintain. The reasoning by the US Army General represents instances of defense mechanisms and attempt to divert the public’s attention from China’s rise in naval and air strength (“Work on New Chinese Aircraft,” 2014, p. A4). Even with increasing tensions over China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, Beijing witnessed the successful completion of a series of training programs and tests. During the 37-day expedition, all the expected objectives were met. The seagoing capability, power, and combat system of the aircraft carrier were tested during the journey. In the trip, submarines, naval vessels, and aircraft took part in the test and training programs. At the time, several islands in the East China Sea remained uninhabited. Japan and China had laid claims on Senkaku Islands, and, at the time, were involved in settling of the disputes. Having declared air defense rights over large sections of the East China Sea, China went on to launch the Liaoning to control both the South China Sea and the East China Sea.


In summary, the Liaoning is a good investment for China. However, the country needs to assess the long-term effects of the several military tests carried on the warship. This would benefit the Chinese government and improve its relations with the neighbors and the US as well.

Work on New Chinese Aircraft
(“Work on New Chinese Aircraft,” 2014, p. A4)


China reportedly starts building second aircraft carrier. (2014, January 18). Channel NewsAsia, p. 6. Web.

Legge, J. (2014). The Independent, p. 14. Web.

Phillips, T. (2014). . The Telegraph, pp. 12-13. Web.

Snowden, E. (2014). South China Morning Post, p. S7. Web.

(2014,). The New York Times, p. A4. Web.

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