|Japanese protesters at an anti-China rally in Tokyo – relations have deteriorated since Japan bought the East China Sea islands. Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters|
September 25, 2012
China’s ministry of defence said the Liaoning would “raise the overall operational strength of the Chinese navy” and help Beijing to “effectively protect national sovereignty, security and development interests”.
In fact, analysts say the carrier, refitted from a ship bought from Ukraine, will have a limited role and will be used mostly for training and testing ahead of the possible launch of China’s first domestically built carriers after 2015.
But China cast the formal handing over of the carrier to its navy as a triumphant show of national strength – at a time of bitter tensions with neighbouring Japan over islands claimed by both sides.
Sino-Japanese relations deteriorated sharply this month after Japan bought the East China Sea islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, from a private owner, sparking anti-Japanese protests across China.
“China will never tolerate any bilateral actions by Japan that harm Chinese territorial sovereignty,” the vice-foreign minister, Zhang Zhijun, said on Tuesday. “Japan must banish illusions, undertake searching reflection and use concrete actions to amend its errors, returning to the consensus and understandings reached between our two countries’ leaders.”