China’s Aircraft Carriers

A closer look at the advances Beijing has been making of late.

China’s Aircraft Carriers: Full Steam Ahead?

By Jeff M. Smith

I first visited Hainan Island six years ago, part of an annual exchange of delegations my think tank, the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC), has been conducting with China since 1994. Led by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers, the January 2011 delegation chose Hainan Island for the customary “second province” visit following the obligatory deluge of meetings in Beijing.

The most memorable part of the Hainan trip wasn’t the substantive exchanges on maritime security with Dr. Wu Shicun’s National Institute for South China Sea Studies. It was a seemingly mundane trip to an exhibition center in Haikou the next day, with its massive showroom displaying an intricately detailed model of Hainan Island.

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