China is building its second aircraft carrier, this time entirely with domestic technology, its Defense Ministry said Thursday.

Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning cruises for a test on the sea

Ministry spokesman Col. Yang Yujun told reporters at a news conference that the 50,000-ton vessel is being built in the northern port of Dalian.

China currently operates one aircraft carrier that was purchased as an incomplete hull from Ukraine more than a decade ago and then armed and equipped in China. That carrier has yet to take on its full aviation complement.

Yang said the second carrier is being built entirely with domestic technology but has drawn on China’s experience refitting its first carrier, the Liaoning.

China is also steadily adding cutting-edge frigates, destroyers and nuclear submarines to its fleet.

Its rapid naval modernization is seen as aimed at asserting its maritime claims and extending its power far from its shores. Those ambitions have raised tensions with Japan, the U.S. and Southeast Asian nations with rival territorial claims.

China claims sovereignty over almost all of the South China Sea, which is home to key shipping lanes, rich fishing grounds and a potential wealth of mineral resources.

‘Wide consultations done on army reform’

China’s military consulted widely on its sweeping reform program, with President Xi Jinping closely involved by speaking with soldiers on the frontlines and hand-writing suggestions, the army’s newspaper said Thursday.

In a lengthy front page commentary, the People’s Liberation Army Daily outlined the steps taken to listen to everyone’s opinions on the reforms, including Xi’s involvement.

The reform commission took opinions from more than 900 current and former senior officers and experts, issued questionnaires and received thousands of online suggestions, the report said.

There were more than 800 meetings about reform from March to October this year covering almost 700 military bases and units, the newspaper said. The article was also carried in the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily.

Xi “found time” to attend meetings on the feedback, saying he wanted to “listen to everyone’s opinion”, it said.

“Every line, every word and every character – Chairman Xi earnestly reviewed every draft, putting forward many guiding suggestions, making many important changes with this own hand,” the report said.

The enthusiasm for reform and willingness to listen to all sides meant the process was “ardently participated in” by soldiers throughout the ranks, it said.

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