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    Mar 04, 2016

    China building aircraft carrier battle groups: Rear admiral


    CHINA is building aircraft carrier battle groups so that it can effectively protect the sovereignty of its maritime territories as well as the economic interests and lives of Chinese nationals living abroad, a Chinese rear admiral told local media.

    The welfare and security of non-national overseas Chinese will also be the concern of such battle groups, Rear-Admiral Yin Zhuo told the state-owned Xinhua news agency.

    The Chinese navy already has an aircraft carrier now named Liaoning, which was bought from Ukraine and refitted by the Chinese, while at least one more, billed as wholly home-made, is in the process of construction.

    But China has no aircraft carrier battle group yet as Liaoning is used chiefly for training purpose. Xinhua confirmed that the second one is in the works in north-east China's Dalian city - it will be conventionally powered and could carry the local-made J-15 fighters and other carrier-based aircraft which would take off using the ski-jump method.

    "The main reason behind China's building of aircraft carriers is to safeguard our legal sovereignty over our offshore islands and reefs, our maritime rights and our interests abroad," said R-Adm Yin.

    According to Xinhua, Chinese territories were being occupied by Japan in the East China Sea and by the Philippine and Vietnam in the South China Sea, while American warships had been violating Chinese claims in the South China Sea under the pretext of "freedom of navigation".

    "Without aircraft carriers, China would find it hard to guarantee peace in these regions and even at home," said R-Adm Yin, who sits on the naval advisory board on cybersecurity.

    He also stressed the need to protect the interests of Chinese investments abroad, which now spread over 155 countries and almost 7,000 non-financial enterprises.

    He mentioned too the need to safeguard the economic interests, political status and job security of overseas Chinese.

    "All these tasks require robust maritime muscles like aircraft carrier battle groups," he added.