The impact of China's first aircraft carrier

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Global Times, July 28, 2011
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China refurbishes an aircraft carrier for conducting research. [Chinanews Agency]

In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, the Ministry of National Defense revealed that China is refitting an old aircraft carrier and will use it for experimental research and training purposes, but kept silent on the carrier's combating capability.

Contrary to people's expectations, China kept a low profile on the debut of its first carrier. Apparently, it is trying its best to avoid worrying its neighbors.

In a photo provided by the ministry, the carrier is seen floating under the support of a heavy rig. China does not want the carrier to be seen as a milestone of its rise. This is not because the country is trying to conceal its military capabilities, but because the image of the carrier is strong and may mislead public opinion, which is contrary to the peaceful nature of China's rise.

China's low profile concerning the carrier is a reflection of the low-key political culture. For several decades, China has behaved modestly on the international stage and has been unwilling to resort to force.

But one side effect of this policy is that once China chooses to voice itself, it is easily criticized by some in the West as becoming arrogant or getting tougher. It is a by-product of China's low-key diplomacy.

Currently, China's first carrier is aimed at scientific research and training, but it will certainly form some military and political deterrence one day. It is not necessary to deliberately hide this fact. No matter who it concerns, in the long run, a true self-depiction will cause the least trouble.

China is a cautious global power. When it has to compete with neighbors for its own interests, it endures unfriendliness from others, as seen by the maritime disputes between China and its neighbors in the South China Sea. When confronted with provocation, China often behaves tolerantly for the purpose of peace and cooperation.

China should learn to get used to conflicts with other powers, since acting on the international stage without conflict is impossible. Therefore, China should be more frank. It should make things transparent both at home and abroad, which will let the outside world understand China better and make adjustments based on its actions.

China's development of an aircraft carrier will help it gain a strategic military and political card. Although the defense ministry is unwilling to speak out, the Chinese public and the whole world see this to be true. China has taken a first step, it will not be the last.

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