Kenneth Payne's view on China's carrier project. The Varyag reconstruction is an attempt at boosting self-esteem, an effort, like much of Chinese policy, to shape what it means to be China, to play with the big boys. Won't work, he says, "because whichever way you squint at it, it’s still a reverse engineered Soviet hand-me-down."
"It’s the equivalent of those huge Middle East arms deals for advanced fighter aircraft: flashy, but a bit flaky. It’s the same too as the inter-war Irish army who, in Theo Farrell’s great illustration, structured itself in conventional fashion, with armoured formations, but hardly any armour. Group status and self-esteem are driving military structures in these examples – not power and the need for security. So, is the Varyag a convincing demonstration that carriers remain viable? Hardly – it’s a new investment banker’s first Porsche: a bit tacky and not quite the Aston Martin he’s secretly craving."
-- Greg Grant