Kin Cheung / Associated Press                                The Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, sails into Hong Kong for a port call Friday.

Kin Cheung / Associated Press The Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, sails into Hong Kong for a port call Friday.

China’s aircraft carrier visits Hong Kong for first time

Associated Press

BEIJING — China’s sole operating aircraft carrier is paying its first port call on Hong Kong to commemorate the region’s handover from British to Chinese rule 20 years ago.

The Liaoning arrived Friday with its escorts of two guided missile destroyers and one missile frigate, dropping anchor at a naval base across from the skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island.

Tickets have been distributed for visits to the ships, something Chinese authorities hope will spur patriotism in the territory increasingly riven by political divisions.

Commissioned in 2012, the Liaoning was built from an unfinished carrier purchased from Ukraine. It carries Chinese J-15 fighter jets along with helicopters and was undergoing exercises at sea before arriving in Hong Kong.

China launched a domestically produced aircraft carrier in April.

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