China's first aircraft carrier will be formally commissioned on the People's Liberation Army's anniversary on Aug. 1 next year. It will then be dispatched to the South China Sea, where China has some territorial disputes.
The online edition of the official People's Daily, quoted a Navy source on Tuesday as saying, "The aircraft carrier will be formally commissioned on Aug. 1 next year after several tests. The Central Military Commission will take command of the carrier." The CMC is the PLA's supreme command apparatus whose chairman is President Hu Jintao.
China is in territorial disputes with Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia over the Nansha (Spratly) Islands and Xisha (Paracel) Islands in the South China Sea.
The aircraft carrier is expected to stage exercises in the South China Sea to put pressure on the other countries, using a naval base on Hainan Island as its home port.
The presence of the aircraft carrier will likely pose a threat to Taiwan and Japan as well, since Hainan is 1,000 km from Taiwan and about 1,500 km from the Diaoyutai (Senkaku), Islands, which are disputed between China and Japan.