New Delhi, Dec 24 (ANI): In a statement, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense in the Chinese Government, has said that China will "seriously consider" building aircraft carriers to protect its vast maritime territory.
Huang Xueping, the spokesman, made the remarks at a news conference called to announce details of a Chinese flotilla that will leave for Somali waters on December 26 to protect Chinese ships from pirates.
Asked whether the Chinese navy's first deployment abroad is a good opportunity to build a carrier, Huang said the government would seriously consider the issue.
"Aircraft carriers are a symbol of a country's overall national strength as well as the competitiveness of its naval force," Huang said.
"China has a long coastline and the sacred duty of China's armed forces is to safeguard the country's marine safety and sovereignty over coastal areas and territorial seas," he added.
China has a coastline of 18,000 km and marine territory of 3 million sq km, nearly a third of its land area.
About 30 aircraft carriers are in service around the world, and China is the only one among the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council that does not have one.
Major General Qian Lihua, director of the foreign affairs office of the ministry, has said in a statement last month that China has every right to possess carriers.
"Even if one day we have an aircraft carrier, unlike other countries, we will not use it to pursue global deployment or global reach," he said.
The development of aircraft carriers becomes even more important in the wake of the increasing threat that Chinese ships face from Somali pirates.
A fifth of the 1,265 Chinese ships that have passed through Somali waters in the first 11 months of this year faced pirate threats, according to Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao. (ANI)