The 50,000-ton carrier was towed from its dockyard just after 9 a.m. following a ceremony in the northern port city of Dalian, where its predecessor, the Soviet-built Liaoning, also underwent extensive refurbishing before being commissioned in 2012, the Ministry of National Defense said.
Development of the new carrier began in 2013 and construction in late 2015. It's expected to be formally commissioned sometime before 2020, after sea trials and the arrival of its full air complement.
Vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission and Communist Party Central Committee member Fan Changlong presided over the launch, which came just three days after the anniversary of the People's Liberation Army Navy's symbolic founding in 1949.
Also attending was navy commander Vice Adm. Shen Jinlong, a former commander of the South Sea Fleet responsible for defending China's claim to virtually the entire South China Sea.
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