Since taking office, Mr. Xi has driven an ambitious effort to modernize the country’s military, reducing the traditional focus on readying the ground forces of the People’s Liberation Army to defend against an invasion of the mainland and increasing the emphasis on technology-dependent naval, air and missile forces.
The new carrier, built by the Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company, has a similar design to the Liaoning but has been modified and expanded, according to Chinese and foreign experts.
The Global Times, a Chinese newspaper, published a side-by-side comparison showing that the new carrier was slightly longer and wider, and saying that it would be able to carry 32 to 36 J-15 fighter jets, compared to 24 aboard the Liaoning.
Both displace 50,000 tons, compared to the newest American carrier, the Gerald R. Ford, which displaces twice that and can carry 75 aircraft. Unlike the nuclear-powered American carriers, the two Chinese ships use conventionally powered engines, limiting their range and ability to stay at sea.
“The main tests will be of the reliability and stability of the mechanical systems and related equipment,” an article on the website of the Chinese Ministry of National Defense said on Sunday, describing the goals of the sea trials, which could last as long as a year.