The growing power of the Chinese Navy
China has taken delivery of its first aircraft carrier into service, according to the country's defence ministry.
The 300-metre-long Liaoning, named after the province where it was refitted, is a refurbished Soviet ship purchased from Ukraine.
Al Jazeera reports Tuesday's unveiling is an attempt by China to be a leading Asian naval power, although the ship is not expected to carry a full complement of planes or be ready for combat for some time.
Chinese Navy Conducting Live Fire Exercise.
The announcement had been long expected and was not directly linked to current tensions with Japan over a disputed group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.
In a brief notice on its website, the ministry said the carrier's commissioning significantly boosted the navy's combat capabilities and its ability to cooperate in responding to natural disasters and other non-traditional threats.
"It has important significance in effectively safeguarding national sovereignty, security, and development benefits, and advancing world peace and common development," the statement said.
The vessel will "increase [China's] capacity to defend, develop its capacity to co-operate on the high seas in dealing with non-traditional security threats and will be effective in defending the interests of state sovereignty, security and development", it said.
|The Chinese Navy is growing and projecting power as far away as the Indian Ocean|