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For the United States, the direct military implications of a Chinese aircraft carrier are fairly limited. The U.S. Navy is rather adept at striking large targets, and a Chinese aircraft carrier would be unlikely to survive beyond the opening hours of a general conflict with the United States. An aircraft carrier would also be of very limited utility in a war between the United States and China over Taiwan, given the mainland’s ability to project air power over Taiwan from land bases. Yet the strategic implications of a Chinese aircraft carrier for the Asia-Pacific region, and especially for the ever-more-tense South China Sea, are potentially significant. China has been increasingly assertive in its disputes with Vietnam and the Philippines in these busy, resource-rich waters, and carrier-borne air cover from Varyag could significantly complicate either country’s ability to defend itself from Chinese aggression in these waters.