Let’s Have Fun With the Chinese Aircraft Carrier ‘Liaoning’!
There’s a Lego-like model of the flattop on sale in Beijing
by TOMMY JAMISON
Behold China’s first aircraft carrier Liaoning — in model form.
When I was a kid I built a model of the USS Saratoga — on which my father served in 1967 — and was mightily impressed by the whole experience. I am, as such, not the least surprised that you can buy a “Lego-ish” version of Liaoning in Beijing.
Though to be fair it was a little incongruous to find the toy kit on sale at the bookstore of the National Library of China.
There are so many things to comment on, but for a start consider how those islands in the background look rather suspiciously like a certain group somewhere in the East China Sea.
Then of course there’s the product description.
If we ignore the Chinglish (“USS Liaoning”?), I reckon it reads something like, “Liaoning is China’s first aircraft carrier. It was developed from the base of the Varyag aircraft carrier, but its shipboard and weapons systems were all independently researched and designed in China. The Liaoning is now China’s primary naval aviation training vessel.”
But those are just words! On to the good stuff — that is, the stuff that makes this ship a weapon.
We see a mix of J-15 and J-20 fighters ready to go. Why you need two shooters to launch aircraft, I can’t fathom. Then again, why launch aircraft when one can fire C-802/YJ-8 anti-ship missiles by the half dozen. Also note the ambiguous-looking patrol craft and helicopters.
The “children can join” the crew in this fun and surely they will. After all, what’s more fun than an aircraft carrier? It’s a boat that shoots planes.
Here — and with some overdue seriousness — lies the model’s significance. The aircraft carrier remains a symbol of power, and a synonym for U.S. naval hegemony. Indeed, U.S. carriers in the South China Sea routinely make news on the Chinese mainland.
This toy reminds us that the carrier’s symbolic value is something to get excited about. As analysts painstakingly measure the PLAN’s operational efficacy, perhaps it’s in this intangible yet meaningful sense that Liaoning has already made its most significant contribution to the New China.