Well, it looks like China just can't get enough of old Cold War aircraft carriers. A Hong Kong businessman has apparently offered the United Kingdom almost $8 million to buy the ex-HMS Invincible, one of the two carriers Britain sent to take back the Falkland Island's in 1982.
The businessman, says that he wants to tow the ship to Zhuhai and turn it into a school that will help foster ties between Britain and China.
When have we heard something like this before? Oh right, when a group of Hong Kong businessmen bought the ex-Soviet aircraft carrier Varyag in the late 1990s. You know, the the ship that's being readied for launch by the PLAN next year.
One of those Hong Kong businessmen -- who said they were buying the Varyag to turn it into a casino -- allegedly had ties to the Chinese military and six of the company's board members lived near a major Chinese shipyard in Yantai.
According to AFP, Lam Kin-Bong, the man who put in the $7.7 million bid for the Invincible at an auction this week, told the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post that he has no plans to turn the ship over to the PLAN. He apparently owns a chain of Chinese restaurants in Britain.
The entrepreneur told the Post that he had no plans to use the ship for military purposes, amid US concerns about Beijing's military build-up.He's even offering to keep the ship in Britain:
"My intentions are purely commercial and have nothing to do with the military," Lam was quoted as saying.
Lam said another option is to berth the vessel in the English city of Liverpool and turn it into "a school to boost the understanding of China and the Chinese in Britain".While British defense officials insist the carrier will be completely gutted before being turned over to anyone, you still have to be wary here.
Remember, the Varyag, whose keel was laid in 1985, was never even finished by the Soviets and was stripped of much of its gear -- right down to the rudders and engines -- before being sold to the Chinese in the late 1990s. It's now set for launch in 2011.
To be fair, China did buy the ex-Soviet Carriers Kiev and Minsk, which are about five years older than the Invincible, and turned them into genuine tourist attractions.
We'll see what happens.