In what is likely the biggest sabre being rattled this week in the war-of-words that is occurring in the Pacific, China announced today the launch of its first aircraft carrier. China bought the 300-meter Soviet-built vessel in 1998 from Ukraine and had it refitted at Dalian. It is named Liaoning (which looks almost too much like 'leaning') after China's northeast province where the port is located. The defense ministry said the aircraft carrier, is an important step in "raising the overall fighting capacity" of its naval forces.
Rear Admiral Yang Yi noted that "it is natural that China should have its own aircraft carrier," arguing that all major world powers already own similar vessels. Of course, the coincidental timing is no surprise as Reuters notes "China will never tolerate any bilateral actions by Japan that harm Chinese territorial sovereignty," Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun told his Japanese counterpart on Tuesday as the two met in a bid to ease tensions.
"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."
Stratfor provides some more color on the current state-of-play (and some history)... as Taiwanese water-squirting was underway (no, seriously!!)