China's Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that the country is refitting an imported aircraft carrier body for the purposes of scientific research and training.
"China is making use of an old aircraft carrier platform for scientific research, experiment and training," said Geng Yansheng, a ministry spokesman, at a regular press conference.
The project marks the first official confirmation that China is pursuing an aircraft carrier program of its own.
"The warship is still seaworthy, as it has been docked at sea for some time. The time for its first sea trial will depend on the refitting schedule," said Geng.
"As an important part of the research and training program, training for aircraft pilots is also in progress," he said.
The spokesman said that the pursuit of an aircraft carrier program will not change the navy's inshore defense strategy.
The vessel is an empty aircraft carrier shell purchased from Ukraine. Ukraine disarmed it and removed its engines before selling it to China.
The craft was originally built by the former Soviet Union, which failed to complete the ship's construction before collapsing in 1991. (more)