The recent launch of China's first aircraft carrier for sea trials may not affect the balance of power in East Asia immediately, but it is a milestone in the modernisation of the Chinese navy. As a revamped old Soviet ship, the former Varyag (widely expected to be renamed the Shi Lang) is hardly a state-of-the-art vessel, and her utility may be limited. However, Beijing's maritime rivals may be perturbed by her presence on the horizon at a time of renewed territorial tensions in the South China Sea.

The recent launch of China's first aircraft carrier for sea trials may not affect the balance of power in East Asia immediately, but it is a milestone in the modernisation of the Chinese navy. As a revamped old Soviet ship, the former Varyag (widely expected to be renamed the Shi Lang) is hardly a state-of-the-art vessel, and her utility may be limited. However Beijing's maritime rivals may be perturbed by her presence on the horizon at a time of renewed territorial tensions in the South China Sea.

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