U.S. satellite firm says it has first image of Chinese aircraft carrier
Digital Globe released this satellite image Wednesday, showing what it says is the first look at the Chinese aircraft carrier Varyag.
December 15th, 2011
10:49 AM ET

U.S. satellite firm says it has first image of Chinese aircraft carrier

A photograph of what is purported to be China’s first aircraft carrier has renewed speculation about its military intentions, according to news reports.

U.S. satellite imaging firm Digital Globe said Wednesday on its website that it had captured an image that appears to be the Chinese aircraft carrier Varyag during drills in the Yellow Sea.

The Varyag was reportedly constructed by the USSR in the 1980s but fell into the hands of the Ukraine. The Chinese purchased it sans weapons and navigation systems under the guise of wanting to turn the vessel into a casino, according to a BBC report in August.

Huntsman: China is 'no ally' of the U.S.

The sea trial is the second for the aircraft carrier, which roused international interest on November 29 when it left the port of Dalian in the Yellow Sea. Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said at the time that the military exercises were a "routine arrangement," Xinhua reported.

The sea drills are seen as a running display of military might for the Asian nation and come amid several recent high-profile provocations at sea.

Earlier this week the Yellow Sea was the site of a confrontation that resulted in a South Korean coast guard commando being stabbed to death and another injured after they boarded a Chinese fishing vessel they suspected of fishing illegally, CNN reported.

Recent military exercises there have raised awareness of Chinese aspirations in the face of the American naval presence in the region, experts say.

"By itself, the ship does not erode the credibility of America's military presence in the region nor greatly increase China's power projection capabilities. Nevertheless, the vessel is a potent symbol of China's aspirations to become a global maritime power and is yet another indication that the military balance of power is gradually shifting in China's favor," Dr. Ian Storey, of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, told the Guardian newspaper.

Last month the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review, presented annually to Congress, gave fresh warnings that China was conducting sea trials of its first aircraft carrier and developing anti-ship ballistic missiles.

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Filed under: China • Politics • World
soundoff (510 Responses)
  1. steve

    Boycott made in china. a suspension in food supply would have a great unsettling effect on the chinese and their nation's political stability.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • james

      Okay Steve, so we we won't be seeing you in any Walmarts in the near future the next time you need barbeque tools or a set of cheap tools, right?

      December 15, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • lysander77

      Boycotts & Sanctions only hurt the citizens, especially in a nation with such a strong hold on their citizens like China. Boycotts aren't realistic yet due to the manufacturing hold they have over the US. Figure out how to pull our manufacturing out of China's iron grip and that'll have much more of an impact to their GDP and defense spending.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • HaMMeR 191

      Boycott China? Everything sold in the USA is made in China! How will this help?

      December 15, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  2. Thank GOD

    SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

    December 15, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  3. Anthony Maryland

    Isnt this sorta ours ? I mean, we paid for it with our purchasing everything they make, right?

    December 15, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      I would have to say you hit the nail right on the head. Well, at least it will be a decade before they can even use the damn thing correctly.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Um!

      Of course the corollary of this is that it is actually the Chinese that control the US Defense budget.....

      December 15, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • allen

      That's what I was thinking. with all the money from goods "made in china", i'm suprised they don't have an entire fleet by now.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  4. Hans in Finland

    It is "Ukraine" not "the Ukraine." Ukraine is a country, Russia tried to minimize its global image by calling it "the Ukraine" so that people would believe it was just a region, like "the Southwest" in the U.S.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Geoz

      Hans. We do it as you say and perhaps for that reason. But, just like "the Ohio State University", the article "the" does not diminish the place in American English.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Myth

      Given that Russian doesn't use articles like "the", I find it a bit hard to believe that it would occur to Russians to trivialize Ukraine by putting The in front of it.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  5. OregonMan

    BOYCOTT "Made in China" products. PLEASE. If you buy Chinese products then its like giving money to someone who is NOT your friend.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • musings

      But how is that possible? Even things made in America have Chinese components. Probably the drone intercepted over Afghanistan and flown to Iran had a Chinese backdoor.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • allen

      Let me know when you have a list of stuff i can purchase that isn't "made in china"...and then I'll think about it.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Maersk

      For a girlyman like you, you should try girlcotting the Chinese instead. Why don't you start by bending over just a little bit more because they like it that way.

      December 15, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. IHopper

    This is wear $ goes when we buy cr-p from China! Start buyi ng ONLY American!!!!!

    December 15, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  7. David

    The Chinese are smart, they've practically made the USA dependent upon them. They could economically and militarily defeat us. I think they will try within the next ten years.
    The first thing we should do is throw every traitor CEO that has done business with China into prison for life (at the very least). That would be a start.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • David1958

      What a ridiculous conclusion. The US is using China. The US has more military might than any nation in human history.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      Wow...you honestly think China could match us in the next decade? You're dreaming...one cruise missile would send this ship to the bottom in minutes. Don't let our struggles with police actions in Iraq and Afghanistan fool you. In a traditional full scale war our military is a century ahead of the rest of the world.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike in Pekin

      David, they could not defeat us militarily. First, they have no ability to project power as an expiditionary force. That is something that only the US can do on a global scale, which is why we always get called on to fix the worlds problems. Most of our coalition partners rely on us to deploy and sustain them in Theater.

      As far as this carrier goes, look at the picture. See anything odd? Anything missing? A carrier is only a threat if it has aircraft. The deck on this thing is completely empty. Know why? You can not just land any plan on a carrier. They have to be designed specifically for that mission. That is why the Navy and the Air Force have different aircraft. The air Force has the luxury of operating from long runways, where naval airvcraft must be able to take off on a catapult, and land using a cable recovery system. The pilots also need to be specially trained to accomplish that. I believe it will be a while before the Chinese develop a cadre of competent carrier pilots, as well as the aircraft they would need to operate. Even when they do, this is one carrier, with one more being built. There are currently only 20 functional larger carriers in the world, (excluding smaller ones, like the US Wasp Class) and we have 11 of them, with two more in construction, and another on the drawing board.

      The Chinese have a very long way to go to actually threaten our national security. While their army may be huge, we still outclass them in lethality, mobility, tactics and doctrine. A war with them would be conventional, more like the first gulf war.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • WC

      Mike In Pekin, what you are saying may be true for now. But you need to know the trend. The gap between the capabilities is clossing fast. What David suggests, at least symbolically, is a better way to prevent and delay the possible confrontation in the future. If they can invent something that can survive the EMP attack, our millitary might canbe erased in a heart beat.

      December 15, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mike

    They are going to need a lot more than one carrior USA is still way ahead of any country IMO i feel the chinese will most likely prematurely strike letting the USA come out on top.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  9. Andreas Moser

    Looks like "Made in China".

    December 15, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  10. SRtT Rules

    OMG its a Transformer heading straight for the US!!!!!!!!

    December 15, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  11. columbus

    I'm sure the fear mongers will start crying wolf, but one carrier isn't a crisis. China is not equipped to project enough power to threaten us on the continental US, maybe a threat from ICBM's, but not from land or sea.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  12. David1958

    ' indication that the military balance of power is gradually shifting in China's favor'

    What? Total horse hockey. They have one aircraft carrier they bought from the Russians that was built in the 80's. Big Deal. The US could sink it with one cruise missle.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • anon

      horses play hockey?

      December 15, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  13. Kroz

    Thank god. At this point I am happy for ANYONE to take over as World Police.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  14. Riri

    They already have... financially. They now have most of our jobs.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  15. why

    How is this any of our business? Cant a nation, who by the way trades with us and works with us, make their own defenses and set itself up to be a player in the world today? What will the Chinese think when they see this on CNN?

    December 15, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Brianoh

      Why worry what they think? What are they likely to do? Send a diplomatic protest? And if they did, what would be the consequences? It is important to consider openly China's military ambitions. The fact is that USA offshoring has given them the economic power to rival the USA – not this year or next, but within a decade if their economy stays on track. The fact that the shell of this carrier is Russian-made has little relevance. In the coming decade they could build a dozen better ones, and probably use American technology.

      January 12, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
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