- The Washington Times - Monday, February 2, 2015

Chinese authorities are moving toward building a second aircraft carrier, according to reports Monday, marking the latest sign the rising Asian military power aims to grow its long-range naval capabilities.

Authorities in the eastern Chinese city of Changzhou claimed on social media to have won a contract to begin building the carrier during the coming year — meaning the ship would be homegrown, as opposed to a refurbished Soviet-era carrier China bought from Ukraine in 2012.

There was speculation, however, about the validity of the social media claim, which reportedly disappeared from the Internet Tuesday shortly after it spawned global headlines.

Agence France-Presse reported that Changzhou authorities had bragged in a posting on a verified social media account that the Jiangsu Shangshang Cable Group had won “the contract for China’s second aircraft carrier.”

But the posting, along with a subsequent reports in Changzhou’s local media, were deleted shortly after publication.

China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was brought online in three years ago. The ship was originally put under construction in the 1980s as an Admiral Kuznetsov Class multi-role aircraft carrier, according to naval-technology.com.

Following the Soviet Union’s breakup in 1991, the ship’s ownership rights were transferred to Ukraine, the website noted, explaining that a Macau-based Chinese company then purchased the unfinished carrier for $20 million in 1998.

While the initial plan was reportedly to convert it into a floating casino, the ship was later handed over to the Chinese government’s People’s Liberation Army for refurbishment.

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