March 27th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Zakaria: A most unintimidating aircraft carrier

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

The questions have flown across the Pacific for years: Was China working on its first aircraft carrier or weren't they? Was it a direct challenge to American naval superiority or wasn't it? Had it been launched or hadn't it?

Well, it turns out China bought three carriers from Russia a decade and a half ago with plans to retrofit them. There's the one that's being militarized, but what about the others?

Well, we don't have to worry about them so much. Take the former Russian carrier Kiev now parked outside Tianjin. Instead of being jam-packed with military hardware, the Kiev is now filled with soft ware. Very soft ware: Beds, pillows, comfy chair lounges and sofas. You see, it is now a hotel and it looks like the kind of place Elvis Presley might have called home, complete with round beds and mirrored ceilings.

There are five suites in all - all of them presidential suites according to the management. For entertainment, a restaurant serving mostly Russian dishes, naturally. And if you peek outside your window, you might see the reenactment of a naval battle. After all, the carrier is now the centerpiece of a military theme park extolling the powers of China's navy.

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Topics: China • From Fareed • Last Look • Odd • Russia

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soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Rz

    This is either decadent or just odd. Do cell phones actually work from below deck ? Or must one perhaps be forced to use prewired and retrofitted Sino-Russian monitored communication channels? Last time I was on the Big E cell phones weren't around (and even then, cameras were prohibited).

    March 27, 2012 at 7:28 am | Reply
    • Tube

      There is a tube that you can shout down. The person listens at the other end of the tube on the deck below. You can even drop candy down to give your friend a nice surprise.

      March 27, 2012 at 8:29 am | Reply
      • jal

        Ok. I will say it...There is no way to have vacation-fun on a military ship like this.

        March 27, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • j. von hettlingen

      The suite smells decadence! I would have nightmare spending a night inside.

      March 27, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Reply
      • M Houston

        Unfortunately, China is rapidly becoming the planet's worst nightmare...

        April 1, 2012 at 4:45 am |
    • Tron San



      《開羅宣言》等一系列宣言 文件明確規定 釣魚島 屬於中國



      May 19, 2012 at 7:44 am | Reply
  2. jal

    My theory is: Perhaps they just wanted to reverse engineer the boat, then sell it for very cheap to a known buyer.

    March 27, 2012 at 7:57 am | Reply
  3. Amato

    There is a plan to tow the retrofitted aircraft carrier to Tibet as China’s “Noah Ark" as a tourist attraction.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:18 am | Reply
  4. amust

    anectodally, we can retrofit all machines of destruction like that and stop killing poeple all over the world. can US take the lead?

    March 27, 2012 at 10:24 am | Reply
    • Common Sense


      March 28, 2012 at 11:17 am | Reply
  5. ActiVism

    Oh look, something about China we don't have to cower in fear about.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Reply
  6. Richard

    Good thing your not living in the Philippines Zakaria, wait till that one working carrier starts sitting 200 miles of the shores of Mindanao and the planes start buzzing about. Id like to see you try and downplay that one and still have what little credibility outside of your own personal circles left. Or is your idea of a humorous tweet?

    March 28, 2012 at 7:27 am | Reply
  7. EVN

    Wow! The Chinese government manages to spend money even more stupidly than the U.S. government. Now that is news.

    March 28, 2012 at 9:39 am | Reply
    • Common Sense

      Thet're making money off cheaply bought carriers! How is that stupid?

      March 28, 2012 at 11:18 am | Reply
  8. Adam

    tthe Kiev was a mgood soviet ship, but the russians sold it off cause they were broke in the 90s. THe new chinese carrier really does suck , it carries few aircraft and it lost the weapons it had when it was in soviet service. THe chinese navy is still far behind the Russian navy and they have very poor power projection

    March 28, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Reply
  9. GenericMan

    That put a smile on my face. We don't need anymore weapons in the world.

    March 28, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Reply
  10. taiycheng

    The Americans have nothing to worry about re: Chinese carrier. Currently the US has one of the strongest navys.

    But we should worry about those smaller coastal nations who have beef with China over their territorial waters in the South China Sea. These countries will feel the eye of big brother along their beachfronts. The new carrier will be a "scientific, research, training" platform parked in the South China Sea.

    I imagine they will bye Experimenting on how to exert the most force on Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan etc.; Researching and plotting the sea under dispute; and Training for military exercises to "free" the inhabitants from overzealous neighbours when the time is right.

    March 28, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Reply
  11. john

    No one wants Iran to acquire nuclear weapons but the hypocrisy of Israel and the US is staggering-we have them but you cannot. A lot of Iranians no doubt see israel and the US as often out of control aggressors

    March 29, 2012 at 1:37 am | Reply

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