If you’ve been to Beijing, chances are you’ve been dragged to the Summer Palace at some point during your tourist rounds. Even if you’ve never been there, chances are you’ve heard of Empress Dowager Cixi’s famous marble boat. If not, the story goes that Cixi embezzled funds meant to build a Navy to protect China from foreign invaders, and built an immobile boat out of marble for the imperial retreat. The Empress made her point, but since then the boat has become a symbol of China’s underdeveloped Navy. Which is a reputation that China has been working diligently to reverse. And what better way to symbolize that turnaround, of course, than to build an aircraft carrier out of cement?
Wacky, but what we’re proposing will be called “President Hu Jintao’s cement aircraft carrier” for adoring masses of the future symbolizes China’s desire to get a real, live floating aircraft carrier on the seas within five years. Of course, building an aircraft carrier is no easy task: projections by other countries’ military experts assume it will take the better part of half a century to complete. Till then, we’ve got one made out of cement at least.
“The carrier mock-up comes complete with flight deck, ramp and tower, all atop what looks like a low-rise brick office building. A fighter plane and helicopter, draped in dark cloth, are parked on the blue-tiled deck.
The Wuhan ship will not be taking to the seas any time soon. But some day in the future, China’s first homegrown aircraft carrier will sail out of Shanghai’s Changxing Shipyard and into the Pacific, loaded with jet fighters and protected by state-of-the-art support ships and submarines.”
It’s undeniable that a Chinese aircraft carrier will be built, and soon. But until then, we guess the best way to practice? With concrete? Of course, People’s Daily wants to assure us that the boat isn’t a military display, and that the western media is lampooning China by assuming so (whoops!). We’ll let the People’s Daily paragraph headers do the summarizing for us:
- Speculation with “China’s aircraft carrier threat” still going on overseas
- “Cement Vessel” does not have any military value
- It is up to China to decide whether or not it will build aircraft carrier
- “Personally, I say China should have aircraft carriers”
Personally, we say China should have aircraft carriers too. Hopefully, the aircraft carrier built in Wuhan won’t become a symbol like the Marble Boat.
Photo by militaryphotos.net