"China's aircraft carrier isn't a 'paper tiger', but will play a significant role in safeguarding its maritime rights and interests, " Rear Adm. Yin Zhuo, member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee and director of the PLA Navy's Expert Consultation Committee on Cyber Security and IT Application, said in a recent TV interview.
The website of America's The National Interest magazine published a report on March 6, which said that "according to the assessment of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) aircraft carriers won’t be able to conduct blue water operations in the way the US Navy’s flattops do. Nor will the PLAN have global power projection capabilities akin to those afforded by America’s fleet of supercarriers". In other words, they think "China's aircraft carriers are the ultimate paper tiger".
In response to the assessment, Rear Adm. Yin Zhuo said that China's aircraft carriers do lag behind in combat capability, especially when comparing the carrier Liaoning with the US Navy's Nimitz-class and Ford-class aircraft carriers.
However, Yin stressed that "in terms of maritime rights and interests, the East China Sea, South China Sea and waters around the Taiwan Strait are the most important sea areas of China's maritime rights and interests, and the Liaoning ship can play a significant role in those areas."
According to news from the Chinese Defense Ministry, the aircraft carrier Liaoning is mainly used for scientific research, training and accumulating experience and technology for developing homemade aircraft carrier in the future, so it's not fair to compare it with American counterparts.
In the meantime, the US has the richest experience and most advanced technology in using aircraft carrier, and its advantages today are based on nearly 100 years of accumulation. In comparison, China's aircraft carrier development started over a decade ago, and its experience in the use of aircraft carrier is even shorter. It's hard enough for it to make the current achievements.
But, the PLA Navy never stops making progress. From December 15 to 29, 2016, the aircraft carrier Liaoning got out of the "house" and sailed across the First Island Chain for far-sea training in the West Pacific for the first time.
During the voyage, the Liaoning carrier battle group conducted exercises in a number of subjects, including establishing the reconnaissance and early warning system, air interception, maritime attack, anti-missile and air defense.
"From the most basic technical training like landing and takeoff to far-sea training, the aircraft carrier Liaoning is getting closer to having complete combat capability," said Yin Zhuo.
In the development of aircraft carrier technology, China follows the steady strategy of "small but fast steps", according to which it has moved steadily from digesting and improving the Liaoning ship to building the homemade carrier as planned," said Yin.
"China's aircraft carriers will adopt catapult-assisted take-off (C.A.T.O.) and be equipped with early warning aircraft, electronic combat aircraft, anti-submarine patrol aircraft, and modern comprehensive electronic information system. They will move from mechanized platform to IT platform," Yin stressed.
Yin also emphasized that "China won't stop developing aircraft carrier because the PLA Navy is far from reaching the far-sea combat capability that meets China's defense needs. China will develop more aircraft carriers with better quality step by step."
"In the near future, we'll see homemade carrier on the frontline of safeguarding China's maritime rights", Yin said.