China is conducting trials of an aircraft carrier of its own design

China's sole operational aircraft carrier the Liaoning is a repurposed Soviet ship bought from Ukraine

China’s sole operational aircraft carrier the Liaoning is a repurposed Soviet ship bought from Ukraine

But it is still the United States that fields more aircraft carriers than any other country. The first - "Liaoning" - was built in 2012 on the base of the unfinished Soviet aircraft carrier "Varyag", bought from Ukraine in 1998.

Neither the Liaoning or the brand-new ship are nuclear-powered, however both can bring around 40 airplanes and have comparable "ski jump" ramps, an old launch system that requires airplane to bring less weapons in order to hold more fuel for liftoff.

They will "not pose major challenges" to the "US domination of the sea lanes", Prof Tsang told The Telegraph.

Naval experts said the Chinese engineers and designers who built the ship had studied the most advanced military technology used by the Americans, as well as the former Soviet Union, and tried to incorporate it into the new ship to meet the practical needs of the PLA Navy.

Sam Roggeveen, senior fellow at Sydney's Lowy Institute, said: 'This is, in and of itself, not created to be some frontal challenge to United States power in the Asia Pacific, because it simply isn't in the class of America's aircraft carriers'.

Those deficiencies "make the ship more vulnerable to attack, or create limitations during routine operations", the report said.

The Shandong's sea trials mark a major milestone in China's blue water navy ambitions and its quest to built a maritime force capable of operating globally.

By comparison, the active USA fleet now sits at approximately 272 ships, he said.

The trials, along with the broader military build-up, follow the course of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who stated this April that the necessity to have a powerful navy "has never been as urgent as it is today".

It has been deployed to assert China's claim to virtually the entire South China Sea and is increasingly ranging farther into the Pacific and Indian oceans.

Last week, U.S. intelligence assessed that there is a high probability the Chinese military had deployed anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles to three artificial islands there during recent military drills.

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