First domestically made carrier begins sea tests

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China's first fully homegrown aircraft carrier, the CNS Shandong, is delivered to the People's Liberation Army Navy at a port in Sanya, South China's Hainan province, on Dec 17, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

The CNS Shandong, China's first domestically made aircraft carrier, has begun a round of sea tests and exercises this month to test weapons and equipment efficiency, an official said on Friday.

Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense, made the remark in response to news reports that the carrier had left port in Dalian, Liaoning province, on Monday to take on its first training mission since being commissioned five months ago.

"According to our yearly testing schedule, the navy is organizing sea tests for the CNS Shandong and will conduct relevant training exercises," Ren said.

"The purpose of this training is to test weapons and equipment efficiency, improve the aircraft carrier's training capability and further elevate its ability to carry out future missions."

The CNS Shandong — China's second aircraft carrier and the first such ship wholly designed and built domestically — was commissioned in December. Construction began in late 2013 and the vessel was first lowered into the water in April 2017. Its first sea trial was carried out in May 2018.

In response to another question regarding China's military budget growth this year, Ren said the money would primarily be used to improve living and training conditions as well as the welfare of troops. It would also be used to modernize weapons and equipment of the People's Liberation Army.

The budget would also support institutional and policy reform of the PLA, and be used to fund combat-readiness training and other military missions such as peacekeeping, humanitarian rescue, disaster relief and others, he said.

This year, China plans to have an annual defense budget of about 1.27 trillion yuan ($178 billion), a 6.6-percent rise year-on-year. The budget's growth rate is the lowest since 1988, when a 3.81 percent increase was proposed.

"The budget growth has maintained a moderate and steady increase," Ren said, adding that the growth would allow the PLA to better fulfill its missions.

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