China's second aircraft carrier left a port outside the Dalian Shipyard on Sunday morning for its first sea trial, signaling that the production of this domestically built carrier is nearly complete.
But time is still needed for the aircraft carrier to be formally delivered to China's navy.
China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which has served the navy for 13 months, underwent 10 sea trials. Some military experts suggest with the knowledge gained from the Liaoning the new aircraft carrier is likely to see smoother sea trials.
From April's launch to the beginning of sea trials, the carrier is still a product under manufacture. It isn't a part of China's navy until it enters service, and it needs time to acquire combat effectiveness.
China is gradually stepping into an era of dual aircraft carriers. But as a major power, China should have multiple aircraft carriers, which take a long time to build. During the process, we should stay patient and cool-headed.
Among all military services, naval construction is the most sophisticated, most expensive and takes the longest to renew and upgrade to combat effectiveness. The navy is highly representative of a country's comprehensive strength and is a frontier force of a country's deterrence. Aircraft carriers are a comprehensive strategic tool, and the development of them means re-construction of China's armed force.
An upgrade in China's national defense is a huge systematic project, and building new aircraft carriers is merely a small part of it. Military modernization is an expedition, for which the real support is a country's sustainable economic development and technological progresses. China needs at least decades for the achievements of its reform and opening up to be fully reflected in its national defense.
Chinese cherish peace and this is why we should make up for our inadequate national defense. China is already the world's second largest economy, but is still far from being the second largest military power. Such a mismatch means potential risks to peace.
China's continuous economic growth easily attracts geopolitical attention. Its defense capability, if matched with its economic strength, can deter other countries from making dangerous calculations or taking impulsive action against China.
As its national strength enhances, China must take more responsibilities for world peace and stability, which is also what the international community expects from us. To fulfill its obligations, China should be stronger, and a powerful blue-water navy is indispensable.
China lags far behind the US in aircraft carrier strength. Washington has 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and more than 70 nuclear-powered submarines. It takes a major power half a century just to build to that level.
China's second aircraft carrier highlights the country's major progress, but it's not an excuse for us to become arrogant or hotheaded. We must be clear about our position while we advance.
China's rise is a long-term test of our confidence, will and wisdom, and we must strive for better performances during the process.