Will China really buy UK's mothballed aircraft carrier?
It was with more than the usual tongue-in-check that AT suggested, back on April 25, that Great Britain's putting its last aircraft carrier, the HMS Ark Royal, up for sale might ultimately put that ship into the hands of the Chinese government.
Now we read, in the current issue of The Diplomat, that exactly that very thing may be going on. Harry Kazianis' piece notes that, over the years, the Beijing government has purchased at least four mothballed carriers: one from Australia and three from the former Soviet Union. The Shi Lang, which begins her sea trials soon as China's first aircraft carrier, began life as the Russia carrier, Varyag.
The Chinese carrier is named for the Chinese admiral who first conquered Taiwan.
There's no sourcing in this story. But The Diplomat speculates that Washington may, in fact, be trying to block a sale of the Ark Royal to Beijing. Let's hope the story is just a wild hair.
A successful purchase of the Ark Royal by China would give Beijing the ability to put two fledgling carrier battle groups into the South China Sea and beyond by the end of 2012. Couple that with China's new, carrier-killing anti-ship missile - currently in development, with a projected 2700-kilometer range - and America's incoming president on January 20, 2013, will find him- or herself confronting a Peoples Republic of China which is already in tactical control of the waters within the so-called Second Island Chain.
Let's hope that's not one last legacy of our Post-American President.
Articles in the British press this week are reporting that Her Majesty's Government is already rueing the decision to mothball the pride of the Royal Navy. In one of those ironies of history, it took a Conservative Government to end the UK's status as a great power. The Brits will be missed, not least on the battlefields of the War with Jihad and the pirate-infested waters of the Straits of Malacca and off the Horn of Africa.
As for the Ark Royal, we hope she ends up in the hands of a friend: Australia, say, where some defense experts are now suggesting the U.S. should establish a carrier homeport - similar to the one we have in Yokohama, Japan - on Oz's western coast. Another prospective purchaser is India.