John Overmyer

Deception by the Boatload

China’s announcement that its first aircraft carrier will soon be launched has refocused attention on its naval ambitions. So, too, has Pakistan's disclosure that it recently asked China to build a naval base at its strategically positioned Gwadar port, on the Arabian Sea – yet another revelation underscoring China’s preference for strategic subterfuge.

NEW DELHI – China’s announcement that its first aircraft carrier is ready to set sail as early as the end of this month has refocused attention on the country’s naval ambitions. So, too, has the Pakistani defense minister’s disclosure that his country recently asked China to start building a naval base at its strategically positioned port of Gwadar, on the Arabian Sea.

Both revelations underscore China’s preference for strategic subterfuge.

After it bought the 67,500-ton, Soviet-era Varyag carrier – still little more than a hull when the Soviet Union collapsed – China repeatedly denied that it had any intention to refit it for naval deployment. For example, Zhang Guangqin, Deputy Director of the Chinese State Commission for Science, Technology, and Industry for National Defense, said in 2005 that the Varyag was not being modified for military use. However, work to refit the carrier had already begun in Dalian, China’s main shipyard.

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