There’s no denying that China is a growing super power. It dominates manufacturing after drawing western countries with cheap labor prices and readily available materials, until recently it had a stranglehold on supplies of rare earth minerals, and while Western markets are struggling with debt it has enough money to invest heavily in businesses around the world.

The latest step forward for the country is the launching of a 300-meter-long, 60,000 ton aircraft carrier…

It’s significant because this is the first carrier China has ever manufactured, and it is currently underway on its maiden voyage signalling the start of a new era for the Chinese sea fleet.

Yes, China having access to a craft that can carry fighter jets is sure to cause concern among politicians and the governments of neighboring countries, but this is only the start. China is planning four or five such carriers altogether. The reason given for needing them is to protect the waters around China’s coastline and its borders.

That China has managed to create its own aircraft carrier would be impressive if they had done it from scratch, but they didn’t. The carrier is actually an old Soviet ship that was purchased in 1998 from Ukraine. It had no engines or weapons, but the Chinese got a rusting shell they could work with to produce a finished carrier some 13 years later. In fact, the original carrier is much older having been built in the 1980s.

Even Chinese military experts are playing down what the carrier is capable of at the moment, stating it will take many years of training before pilots can land and takeoff, and the ability to use it in a conflict would require it works with the existing Chinese fleet, again something that needs time, practice, and organization to achieve.

Even so, this is the start of China’s quest to grow a naval fleet that one day may even rival the carrier fleet of the U.S.

Read more at Euronews and BBC News