Military deputies to the National People's Congress (NPC) yesterday urged the government to start work on building aircraft carriers, saying the defense strategy was "necessary".
Military delegates reviewing the government report at the ongoing NPC session, March 5, 2009. [Xinhua]
"Building aircraft carriers is a symbol of an important nation. It is very necessary," Admiral Hu Yanlin, former political commissar of the Navy of the People's Liberation Army, told China Daily.
"China has the capability to build aircraft carriers, and should do so," he added.
Vice-Admiral Jin Mao, the former vice-commander of the Navy of the PLA, said in the hallway at the Great Hall of the People packed with reporters: "Just wait and see, I have the feeling that news (of China building aircraft carriers) will be announced soon."
China's plan to build aircraft carriers made headlines worldwide after Major-General Qian Lihua, director of the foreign affairs office of the National Defense Ministry, told overseas media last November that the country had "every right to possess carriers".
A national defense ministry spokesman later said China is "seriously considering" building aircraft carriers to protect its vast maritime territory.
Earlier this year, China sent a fleet to join the international anti-piracy campaign in the Gulf of Aden, the first foreign mission for New China's naval forces.
Numerous reports have said that China would build medium-sized aircraft carriers within 10 years from now, while some have said China is already building one.
On Wednesday, Taiwan media quoted strategists as saying the mainland's plan for aircraft carriers would be announced when the Navy celebrates its 60th anniversary next month.
Among China's neighboring countries, Russia, India, Thailand and the Republic of Korea have aircraft carriers, while some of Japan's naval vessels can double as sub-standard aircraft carriers.