China on Tuesday put its first aircraft carrier into formal service, in response to escalating tensions with Japan over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. The disputed islands — known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China — are considered relatively unimportant as geo-strategic assets, but they have become symbolically important for nationalist groups in both countries. China said the carrier would significantly bolster the strength of the Chinese navy, but independent analysts say the ship will likely be used for training, testing, and other minor operations.
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