China has made excellent progress developing it second aircraft carrier and according to Beijing it could start patrolling the South China Sea in 2019.

The new aircraft carrier is designed and will beused to tackle complicated situations in the South China Sea. Beijing claims 85% of the disputed area, which sees $5 trillion in shipping trade annually.

China’s second aircraft carrier will likely be named “Shangdong” after a Chinese port city. The ski-slope style carrier cannot launch the heavy bomb-and-fuel-laden planes that the U.S. carriers can, so the payload and range are limited. But the Chinese and Russian carriers are build for coastal defense, not seaborne power projection.

China’s Navy has undergone rapid modernization in the last few years, with particular emphasis on fielding submarines. Taken in concert with China’s other efforts to create technology like long range missiles, the USA has its work cut out to offer any meaningful effort to counter China over the U.S. expansionism in the Pacific.

Reuters / AA Magnum News 2017.

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