China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier slipped into the sea for the first time on Wednesday, after days of publicity celebrating the impending launch as a milestone in President Xi Jinping’s drive to extend China’s military reach far beyond its shores.
Senior military and government officials watched as a champagne bottle was smashed on the bow and as the 1,033-foot gray hull of the carrier eased into the water at Dalian, a northeastern port, the Chinese military news media reported. The ship, festooned with red national flags and banners, then stopped next to the dock.
The launch “signified a major stage of progress of our country’s indigenous design and construction of aircraft carriers,” a news bulletin from the People’s Liberation Army said. It said the carrier would undergo more testing and fitting of equipment before trials in the water.
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