But this does not mean that the deployment of this new Chinese aircraft carrier poses an inherent threat to US interests by China. Aircraft carrier battle groups that don't have several hundred miles of open ocean around them had better be operating under friendly air cover lest they fall prey to saturation attacks, a lesson the US learned to its cost in operations off Okinawa and Japan in 1945.
The Chinese are not fools. They know this. And this is why Shi Lang's development is accompanied by the deployment of ballistic missiles that can reportedly strike a carrier at sea, anti-satellite technology, information warfare, and modern strike aircraft. In this context, Shi Lang is just one aspect of a Chinese defense strategy that involves keeping enemy aircraft carriers and other threats far away from its long coast.
Shi Lang represents China's ability to extend its air defenses a bit further out into the Pacific, nothing more. It will most likely operate within the range of supporting land bases in the East China Sea or South China Sea and support the transit of submarines into the Pacific. It is not an offensive vessel in the same vein as a US carrier: a floating piece of sovereign territory. It is a mobile airbase to be employed in war cautiously and in a limited manner close to home. It is a defensive vessel, not a threat to US interests, not a ship that will try to close Malacca or Hormuz.
In truth, China's accession to the carrier club is intended to be symbolic- after all, every other member of the Security Council has nukes and carriers, so why not China? But as a symbol, Shi Lang can actually stand for more than mere technological maturity. It could actually be a symbol that is embraced by the United States itself, and mark a new direction in US military policy.