China Cops to Not-So-Secret Aircraft Carrier Says it's almost ready to launch By Kevin Spak, Newser Staff Posted Jun 9, 2011 1:04 PM CDT 9 comments Comments This image from a US Naval War College report shows the Varyag aircraft carrier that China purchased from Russia. (Wikimedia) (Newser) – Chinese military officers say their new aircraft carrier is ready to launch, finally admitting the existence of what may be the world’s worst kept military secret. China originally purchased the rusting Soviet-era ship, then dubbed the Varyag, in 1998, saying it would be a floating casino, the Guardian explains. Instead, it upgraded the ship, now christened the Shi Lang, at its Dalian naval yard, which was suddenly off-limits for foreigners. The West wasn’t exactly fooled—it’s hard to hide something that size—but China hadn’t officially acknowledged the thing’s existence until this week, when the chief of China’s military general staff said it “is being built but has not been completed.” His assistant then commented that aircraft carriers “are symbols of great nations,” adding “It would have been better for us if we acted sooner in understanding the oceans and mapping out our blue-water capabilities.” Click for an unflattering assessment of the carrier's capabilities.