What I find kind of interesting about this is it seems to confirm Andy's observation when we talked about the subject back in February that the PRC and the PLAN have bigger ambitions than simply dominating the near abroad/South China Sea. One carrier can be dismissed as curiousity; two seems more like a plan.
What I find kind of fascinating about this is how it seems like if you're a highly-placed naval officer with big ambitions for power projection - or a naval bureaucrat responsible for force design and ship orders - it doesn't matter if you work for the USN or the PLAN...it seems like you just want to build carriers, regardless of whether those carriers can help you do what you want to do.
Our frequent commentor Sven spent a ton of time dissecting the notions of 21st Century naval power back in 2018 and - while his whole series is worth a read, I'll quote from his conclusion:
"Navy bureaucracies have zero incentive to become storage administrators running inventory and function checks on thousands of containers. They want ship hulls to play with. They want to go cruise at sea. That's what a navy is all about in their opinion - regardless of whether this is a means to a reasonable end.When we talked about this earlier Sven also made the observation that since 1945 carriers have been used exclusively as a land-attack platform. Does the PLAN's enthusiasm for carriers mean not that they see them as a way of securing their maritime supply lines - which, if you read Sven's series makes a good case for big warships as a very inefficient and cost-ineffective way to do that - but, rather, that they see themselves as doing the sort of imperial diddling around in the hustings that the USN has been doing with their carriers?
We need military bureaucracies that offer the most cost-efficient approach to satisfy deterrence and defence needs, not clubs of men who want to play with ships or boats at the taxpayer's expense. The outcome of European naval bureaucracies pursuing their self-interest is a combination of very high expenses and a de facto absent ability to secure maritime trade. We need the civilian masters of the naval bureaucracies to rein in and bring them on course to pursue the national interest over their bureaucratic self-interest, for the navies would never be able to do so or even only admit that they don't serve the national interest first and foremost. Without such an intervention we will simply keep wasting money for next to no benefits in return."
You'd think, given the history of the results of many U.S. "interventions" outside the western hemisphere (and not a few of them INside...) that a sensible polity would take that not as an example but as a warning.
So...Chinese carriers? Hubris? Great Power affectation? Part of a cunning geopolitical strategy? Just following the fad? Geopolitical mistake?