Beijing, Feb 6 (IANS) China plans to build four nuclear-powered aircraft carrier by 2035 in order to catch up with the world's strongest US Navy, says a report.
China is rapidly building a blue army as it flexes its muscles in international waters and feuds with over half a dozen countries, including the US, in the South China Sea. Its growing presence in the Indian Ocean worries India too.
"China's nuclear-powered aircraft carriers with (EMALS-like systems) are expected to join the Navy by 2035, bringing the total number of carriers to at least six - although only four will work at the front line," Wang Yunfei, a naval expert and retired PLA destroyer naval officer, told the South China Morning Post.
"The country needs to keep developing until it is at the same level as the US," Wang said.
The world's second largest Navy aims to compete with the US and the territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas also drive Beijing to build a powerful Navy.
China currently has two aircraft carriers where the US has 19 of them.
Wang said the economic downturn in China will not affect the budget for these carriers. "Even if the economic downturn has an effect, we can adjust proportions in total military expenditure to make sure naval modernization keeps going," he said.
"For example, we can cut the number of new tanks.
"The budget for military modernization will not be cut, even if (the mainland) decided to (use force to) reunify Taiwan. In a war scenario, (Beijing) may reduce spending on things like infrastructure, but it would increase military expenditure."
Chinese President Xi Jinping wants a modern PLA force which is the largest standing Army in the world. He wants to trim the troops in the Army and spend more on the Air Force and Navy.