India’s launch of its first indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant should spur China to speed up construction of its domestic aircraft carriers, the Global Times newspaper said in an editorial on Tuesday.
“India’s actions remind us that the strategic significance of developing aircraft carriers in Asia is not declining. Rather, they are one of the most effective strategic tools in maintaining national maritime interests,” said the Communist Party-run tabloid, which is a widely read newspaper known here for its hard-line views.
“The earlier China establishes its own aircraft carrier capabilities,” the editorial said, the earlier it will gain the strategic initiative.”
The newspaper, did however, add that there was "no arms race" between India and China, pointing out that Beijing had been more concerned by the recent unveiling of Japan’s Izumo light carrier, rather than by the launch of Vikrant.
“India has adopted a different attitude than Japan toward territorial disputes with China. Meanwhile, India's overall national strength lags behind that of China. Therefore, China perceives Japan rather than India as its biggest neighbouring threat,” the editorial said.
The launch of Vikrant had underscored that India was “moving faster in terms of developing armaments such as aircraft carriers” while China was “a latecomer among big powers in terms of developing domestic aircraft carriers”. “Even India has moved ahead of us,” added the editorial.
China’s first aircraft carrier the Liaoning, a refurbished and upgraded version of the Soviet carrier the Varyag, was put into sea-trials last year. China is also constructing its own first indigenous carrier, with defence analysts quoted as saying China would require at least three carriers in service considering the naval strengths of countries such as India and Japan.