China began sea trials of the aircraft carrier, own production

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The vessel is the country's second aircraft carrier.

The 70,000-tonne Type 001A was launched in April last year and is expected to join the navy as early as the end of this year, well before the original target of 2019.

Speaking to CNN of this morning's sea trials, Sam Roggeveen, senior fellow at Sydney's Lowy Institute said: "This is, in and of itself, not created to be some frontal challenge to US power in the Asia Pacific, because it simply isn't in the class of America's aircraft carriers". First aircraft carrier - the Liaoning was bought from Ukraine, completed and modernized.

The massive 50,000-metric-ton carrier, known only as the "Type 001A", left a shipyard in Dalian, in northeast China's Liaoning province, on Sunday morning at around 6:45 a.m. local time amid thick fog and with assistance from several tugboats, before navigating out to sea under its own power, state-run media said.

The new carrier gives China more options as it asserts its claims in the disputed South China Sea and seeks to deter any independence movements in Taiwan. Building commenced in November 2013.

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The new carrier, which has a cruising speed of 31 knots, is based on the same Soviet Kuznetsov-class design used for the Liaoning, with a ski-jump type ramp for taking off, unlike USA carriers, which have more advanced catapult technology.

A third aircraft carrier is being built in Shanghai, according to state media, although the Defense Ministry has yet to confirm this.

Nevertheless, Beijing has actually started a comprehensive job to develop a "blue water" navy and modernise its 2 million-strong military, the world's biggest.

Some reports said China is also planning to build a nuclear aircraft carrier.

Chinese experts estimates the carrier could be ready for action in about two years after further tests.

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