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. BigD

    This is what China purchases with all of the money we keep sending them to manufacture our goods. I've said it before and I'll say it again. We are funding the buildup of China's military and one day we will lose lives fighting against it. Wake up people!

    December 15, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • guy smilie

      Who cares what you said. Yawn.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • ObamaJoe

      yauuuuuwwwnnnnn,,,,,,,,,,,,,

      December 15, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rightster

      The only way we'll lose lives to the Chinese military is if we fail to realize it might be time for another superpower to rise. There's never been a case where an existing superpower has gracefully exited their "top dog" position, without going down fighting. With our economic status and squandering hundreds of billions of dollars invading and occupying countries that were no threat to us, that day is probably approaching much faster than we all realize.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cheetahe

      Have you ever thought of that this transfer of wealth to China is not orchestrated by the US establishment? Do you think that they are so stupid that they cannot discern the obvious.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • BigD

      People with intelligence, unlike yourself.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • ya no

      guy: I do.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rightster

      Correction: The Soviets didn't go down fighting, but they were always second fiddle to us, and the verdict is still out on them.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • really?

      are you serious man, the US wouldn't have an economy if it wasn't for China....how much do you think your precious ipad would cost if it were made by us workers?

      December 15, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roger

      Why would they go to war with one of their biggest business customers? I realize they're just a bunch of godless commies and all, but even they have to realize that's going to have a negative effect on gross national product.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rich in CO

      I care, because he's right. Go back to your XBox, guy.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cheetahe

      Reply to Really?
      They will cost about the same or less. Because you do not need much of any human labor with automation. Read a little more about why US jobs are transferred overseas, labor costs is not the whole story.. Most products now days are produced in robotic factories.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. FHBOY

    In the 21st Century the balance of power will no longer be sole weighed on military might. The Chinese have along history of acquiring power by a multi-pronged method: social, economic, military. They also have a "Long March" paradigm which enables them to have the patience to eventually prevail, even if it takes years and decades to accomplish. Knowing all this, and that the US is very much in debt to the Chinese, I would not dismiss the "balance of power" argument. If the US does not get it's economic and social house back in order, those who toady fear a dominant China could see their fears realized in this before the mid-century.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • fearlessdude

      China doesn't have a history of attacking other nations like we do. The Great Wall was a built to keep others out.
      The industrial military complex is working hard to produce an enemy. China is not interested in fighting. They can out-produce us.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rightster

      The same can be said for Iran.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • FHBOY

      That is correct. So, they will reply more on economic and social power for change, Example, they are now competing with the US to purchase oil from oil producing nations. Can't this be an eventual "weapon" to shift the economic balance of power?

      December 15, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • ChicagoRich

      The government of China is only a bit over 60 years old, so what its habits are towards imperialism are unknown. The history of the people who live there is not entirely benign as vassel states were created and propped up along their borders at many times in recorded history. While I hope for a peaceful future, it is, at best unknown, and if you base the future on our past, conflicts will come to pass between various countries and our own. The only way we will be defeated is if we continue to allow our population and our industry to erode, although we have definitely started down that course. Unfortunately our governance regarding domestic policies, and our trade agreements which consider little other than cost push us down the path of decay.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jim Bob

    I love these comments about "made in China". It was made in the USSR. Remember them? Maybe not as good as most U.S. steel, but they DID have technology. This is but one step. In case you hadn't notice, the runway seems intact. That's all it takes...

    December 15, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • csam18

      It still looks like a rust bucket in comparison though.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      Uhhh yeah made in USSR in the 1980s and given to China without any weapons or relevant technology. The only reason to pay attention to this junkyard reclaimed aircraft carrier is to investigate and understand Chinese ambitions. The aircraft carrier and its outdated technology itself is irrelevant.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sean

    By 2030 the China Navy will be even larger with a couple more carriers to add to the fleet. The article is referring to the fact will we will soon loose our grip of the Pacific and China seas. I would say the people that need to worry are South Korea, Thailand, and Taiwan. Before i die of old age these countries will belong to China so keep buying that walmart junk to feed the monster.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake2055

      You DO know that NOTHING is produced in the U.S. anymore... NO electronics, textiles, steel is dying and American made cars are keeping a lot of ROBOTS in work, with a very few humans overseeing the programming. We've 'regulated.EPA'd, OSHA'd & FAA'd our manufacturing/transportation business out of the country, killed our farming and the generations of farming families to save the tiny, snub-nosed snorkelfish and our politicians are raking in our tax dollars to line their OWN pockets while telling the REST of us WE have to sacrifice! Maybe you might want to broaden your target for the causes of our current problems. There IS no 'Buy American' anymore...we sold it.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jake2055

    It's not a real threat...yet. Maybe after we send 'advisers' to show them how to train their crews to use it. Maybe they already have some in our Navy, learning the techniques to pass on to their countrymen. Why not? we've trained just about every existing terrorist in our colleges as 'engineers, exchange students'..etc... only to see them pop up somewhere else planting or designing bombs or designing weapons programs for our enemies. We have to. We can't discriminate against other nation's citizens by withholding our knowledge... besides, they pay us.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cheetahe

      Jake, you are so to the point, I agree with you 100%. The establishment has brainwashed the citizenry and now people are getting the message somehow that all this outsourcing and transfer of wealth was at the expense of the average working stiff.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. randy

    Its time to invade China. Its the only way to get back all the jobs they took. Plus it will boost our economy and stop them from making cheap knock off Viagra coated with lead paint.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • FHBOY

      China did not "take" any jobs, major corporations "gave" them the jobs.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • mark

      what are you 10?

      December 15, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • ObamaJoe

      yeah,,,Occupy China,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

      they will throw money to you 🙂

      December 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • ya no

      randy: The name certainly fits. If the US decides to invade China, we can send you and your fellow warmongers in.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chuk

    Yeah, so the satelite "happen" to accidentally take the photos without human intervention? Give me a break. Just like the downed remote controlled spy drone "happen" venture into Iran. Or maybe they got lost while "hiking". LOL.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mike

    Imagine that, not even made in China!

    December 15, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • ObamaJoe

      Made in Russia,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,poor China,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

      December 15, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. American Citizen

    Seems like we just want another war to fight in!!! money, money, money....Isn't it ironic that the same day we pull out of Iraq we start speculating China as threat!!!

    December 15, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • FHBOY

      If you are correct: Hooray for the Military-Industrial Complex! They will keep us at war forever. Too bad we didn't listen to Ike.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. randy

    FHBOY that is true, paid them 1/4 as much and shipped the rubber dog crap back here. Thank you Corp America.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. palintwit

    We have the GOP to thank for this yellow filth.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. SEdrools

    China deserves an "atta boy". 30 yr old aircraft carrier takes its second maiden voyage. Next plan China. Get some planes to fly off of it!

    December 15, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • FHBOY

      "China never even takes a dump, son, without a plan." borrowing from Hunt for Red October, so don't you worry, they will have the planes. It is time to get our house in order, stop waggling swords and become allies with China.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • palintwit

      You are obviously under estimating them. It's probably already armed with a nuclear weapon. You are making a mistake.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • JimboJones

      The only nuclear weapon that could be launched from that carrier would be one attached to an aircraft. The power plant on that vessel is nuclear but any weaponry attached to the hull would be strictly defensive. Carriers are just that: carriers.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mark

    well about time they got themselves some carriers. what's the surprise? what else are they suppose to do with all our money?

    December 15, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • randy

      They need to use it to clean up their filth hole country. Its only a matter of time they took will have a revolt and want freedom. Then the jobs will all be moved to the next crap hole low wage country.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ObamaJoe

    Check Walmart ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    December 15, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dave

    Wow. So China has one aircraft carrier that they had to buy off of Russia. The US has more carrier groups in operation now than the rest of the world combined (11 vs. 10). Of those 10, eight are operated by NATO allies or countries we are friendly with. So this is hardly anything to get worried about.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • palintwit

      Right. So let's keep shopping at Walmart. And while we're at it, let's send more jobs over there, too.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Skeiron

      Basically you could also count the various amphibious assault ships which are also capable of operating aircrafts like the AV-8B Harrier II or in the future the F-35.
      The US Navy has currently something like 9 amphibious assault ships which operate AV-8B Harrier IIs.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
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