Aircraft carrier protects peace

Updated: 2012-09-25 08:09

By Yang Yi (China Daily)

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After 10 test sails, China's first aircraft carrier will be in service soon. This has caused widespread concern among the international community, with foreign media claiming China is putting more pressure on Japan amid the intensifying discord over the Diaoyu Islands. Some have even been speculating that the aircraft carrier will take part in military operations against Japan, and if so, this will have a huge impact on other countries that have maritime territorial disputes with China, resulting in a deteriorating external diplomatic and security environment for China.

In fact, there have been all kinds of criticism and speculation about the aircraft carrier's presumed role.

However domestically, most people have welcomed the news that the country's first aircraft carrier will soon be in service. Although, some people think that it has done more harm than good spending so much money to refit an old aircraft carrier rather than building a new one, and some have expressed doubts about the combat effectiveness of a remodeled vessel.

Nevertheless, the development of aircraft carriers is an important part of China's national defense modernization, in particular its naval forces, and this aircraft carrier is an essential stepping stone toward its own more advanced aircraft carriers in the future.

When all the major powers, and even some small and medium-sized countries, own aircraft carriers, it is natural that China should have its own aircraft carrier. To achieve China's great cause of national rejuvenation, China should not only be a land power but also a sea power. While China is facing the threat of various external security challenges, the development of its aircraft carrier has become the common aspiration and will of the entire nation.

After it comes into service, the aircraft carrier will be mainly responsible for scientific research and training missions to accumulate the experience and technology necessary for China to build a more advanced aircraft carrier platform in the future, and to explore and gain practical experience for equipment development, personnel training and joint military operations within the navy and with other military services. In a sense, the aircraft carrier can be seen as an "experimental field" for China's modernization of its navy.

China's adherence to the path of peaceful development and its national defense and military strategy, which is defensive in nature, will not change when the aircraft carrier comes into service. China not only is, and will continue to be, the powerhouse of continued regional and global economic growth and development, it is also an important force promoting regional stability and world peace.

China has vast sea areas and huge maritime rights and interests that it needs to protect, and China's growing overseas interests require a strong navy to provide security guarantees. Regional stability and world peace also call for the Chinese navy to play a more active and substantial role. China, which was once coerced by Western powers invading from the sea, can no longer ignore the importance of maritime defense. However, it will never pursue a "gunboat policy" and bully weaker countries.

In the face of a rising China in economic, political, cultural and military strength, it is inevitable that some countries will be suspicious about and misunderstand China's intentions. In order to counterbalance the theory that its new aircraft carrier is a threat, China must not only continue to make clear its strategies and policies, it must also take practical actions to convince the world that with the development of China's military strength, especially the strengthening of its overseas projection capability, it will enhance its role as a defender of regional stability and world peace.

At present, China's national security faces complex, diverse challenges, and to safeguard its national security and maintain a favorable external environment is the premise for China to achieve its strategic goal of building an all-round well-off society.

In dealing with the territorial and maritime rights disputes with some neighboring countries, China has remained committed to solving the problems through diplomatic channels and negotiations, and opposes the use of force or threat of force. China's sincerity is well known and should not be doubted.

But China is tough-minded and will resolutely safeguard its sovereignty and national dignity. We stand for peace, but we are not afraid of any threats or intimidation. China should continue to modernize its military forces step by step, including the building of aircraft carriers. When China has a more balanced and powerful navy, the regional situation will be more stable as various forces that threaten regional peace will no longer dare to act rashly. China's military forces, especially its powerful naval forces, can provide the international community more "public security products" that are enough to stop the impulse of any country to attempt military adventures. Maintaining regional stability and world peace needs not only the development of China's military might, but also increased cooperation with other countries. China will continue to cooperate with all peace-loving countries and forces to work together for regional stability and world peace.

The author is a rear admiral and former director of the Institute for Strategic Studies at the People's Liberation Army National Defense University.

(China Daily 09/25/2012 page9)