WASHINGTON — The United States said Wednesday it would like China to explain why it needs an aircraft carrier amid broader US concerns about Beijing's lack of transparency over its military aims.
"We would welcome any kind of explanation that China would like to give for needing this kind of equipment," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters when asked whether the carrier would raise regional tensions.
"This is part of our larger concern that China is not as transparent as other countries. It's not as transparent as the United States about its military acquisitions, about its military budget," she said.
"And we'd like to have the kind of open, transparent relationship in military-to-military affairs," Nuland said.
"In our military-to-military relations with many countries around the world, we have the kind of bilateral dialogue where we can get quite specific about the equipment that we have and its intended purposes and its intended movements," she said.
But China and the United States are "not at that level of transparency" to which the two nations aspire, Nuland added.
The comments came hours after China's first aircraft carrier embarked on its inaugural sea trial, a move likely to stoke concerns about the nation's military expansion and growing territorial assertiveness.
Beijing only recently confirmed it was revamping an old Soviet ship to be its first carrier and has sought to play down the vessel's capability, saying it will mainly be used for training and "research."