China has stated publicly for the first time its intention to acquire two or more indigenously designed and built aircraft carriers for the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).
A brief reference to the strategy has appeared in an annual report from the the State Oceanic Administration (SOA). Although it was published in May, the reference was buried at the end of the 570-page document and has only now been picked up by news outlets in the Asia-Pacific region.
A translation of the SOA's 2010 Ocean Development Report, published by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post on 19 December, stated: "In 2009, China put forward an idea and plan for building aircraft carriers. These indicate China has entered the historical era of building a maritime superpower."
The translation continued: "Building China as a maritime power is the mission of China in the whole 21st century, and 2010 to 2020 is the critical period for accomplishing this strategic mission, with the goal to place China among mid-tier maritime powers."
In addition, unconfirmed reports published by the several newspapers in the region are suggesting that construction of a conventionally powered carrier (CV) may have started.
Japan's Asahi Shimbun stated on 17 December: "Construction has already begun at six military affiliated companies and research institutes in Shanghai and other locations."