China's new aircraft carrier Shi Lang is planning to serve in the South China Sea by the next Army Day, a military source said.
The vessel will be under direct command of the country's Central Military Commission.
"An aircraft carrier is the mark of major powers," said General Qiao Liang, a military expert.
The vessel will largely expand the combat radius, raising the country's offshore comprehensive combat capabilities beyond the first island chain. Qiao said that air domination is the prerequisite of naval warfare, especially for the remote areas away from the heartland. As a result, there is no alternative for the vessel's leadership.
Rather than an armament used in actual combat, the aircraft carrier is now more a strategic weapon. Its combat function ended as the Second World War was over.