08/12/2011, 00.00
CHINA – UNITED STATES – KOREA

US wants “explanations” from China about its aircraft carrier

Joseph Yun Li-sun
Washington calls on Beijing for explanations about the ‘Varyag’, the first aircraft carrier to fly the red flag of the People’s Republic. A Korean source tells AsiaNews the ship was refitted because the US “cut defence spending”. This is threat to everyone, “especially Taiwan.”
Seoul (AsiaNews) – The United States “wants China to provide explanations about its new aircraft carrier. The ship is being refitted because Washington has cut defence spending and Beijing was only waiting for that,” a source close to the South Korean government told AsiaNews. “We are not that concerned about China; Pyongyang is worse. We are sorry about Taiwan though.”

The reference was to the island formerly known as Formosa, de facto independent from mainland China since 1949. After their victory in the civil war, China’s Communists vowed to bring the island back into the Chinese fold. So far, Taiwan has resisted its pressures, military and otherwise, thanks to US military assistance. However, US military cuts have considerably reduced that aid.

In any case, Washington wants to save face and this morning asked China for greater transparency with regards to its first aircraft carrier, the ‘Varyag’ now renamed Shi Lang, which can carry 26 planes and 24 helicopters.

According to Chinese authorities, the ship will be used for scientific research, exploration and training. Yet it is equipped with various weapons systems, including missiles.

Still Washington has insisted on transparency. “We welcome any explanation from China about why it needs this kind of equipment," US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. “This is part of our larger concern that China is not as transparent as other countries," she added, “not as transparent as the US about its military acquisitions or its military budget."

“Beijing does not want to talk about its military spending,” the source told AsiaNew. “It is in fact a growing menace. The US has cut about 800 billion from its military budget, and this not only represents an end to their hegemony in the Pacific but also threatens the independence of Taiwan and peace in our seas.”
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