It also will need to develop a strategy and doctrine for deploying and protecting the carrier on missions far from the Chinese coast, they say. U.S. carriers rely on a screen of supporting surface warships, supply vessels and nuclear attack submarines for protection.
China’s determination to operate carriers is sending a strong signal about its determination to enforce its territorial claims, analysts say.
In a study on China’s maritime strategy published earlier this year, Japan’s National Institute of Defence Studies, the Japanese military’s policy research arm, said basing China’s first aircraft carrier at Hainan would shift the balance of power in an area of intense territorial competition.
“Should the Varyag be deployed to the South China Fleet, it would enable China to demonstrate its dominant naval power to the disputing states, which in the end could trigger a new arms race in the region,” the study said.