China on Friday launched its third aircraft carrier, which is named after the Chinese province that directly faces Taiwan.
Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua reported that the carrier, named Fujian, is the first carrier made in China that uses catapults.
State media shared footage of celebrations at the launch:
Fujian is China’s closest province to Taiwan, the self-governing island that China claims as its own.
China’s defense minister said on Sunday that his country would “fight to the very end” to stop Taiwanese independence.
“If anyone dares to secede Taiwan from China, we will not hesitate to fight. We will fight at all costs. And we will fight to the very end,” he said.
The US defense secretary had that day accused China of a “steady increase in provocative and destabilizing” military activity near Taiwan, including flying military aircraft nearby in “record numbers in recent months.”
The Fujian carrier had been under construction at the Jiangnan Shipyard northeast of Shanghai since 2018, the Associated Press reported.
It is thought to be able to rival the capabilities of those in the West, according to the AP.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank described the carrier earlier this month as part of China’s efforts to modernize and grow its military, and said the launch would be a “seminal moment in China’s ongoing modernization efforts and a symbol of the country’s growing military might.”
Reuters also noted that Chinese President Xi Jinping has committed to overhauling China’s military.
Sinéad Baker is a News Reporter based in Business Insider’s London bureau. Sinéad most often covers breaking news, US politics, and global censorship.