Type 055 Cruiser Test Rig
The 055 cruiser test bed is a step closer to completion, as seen in the portside (left) view. The main cannon, CIWS and FL-3000 missile launcher have all been installed, and the helicopter hangar is complete.
At a northern quayside China's first aircraft carrier dwarfs nearby vessels, its take-off ramp rising higher than the top deck of the cruise ship at the next berth, symbolising the country's naval ambitions.
Dalian, where the Liaoning was refitted and undergoes regular maintenance, looks out over the Bohai strait, gateway to the Yellow Sea, and beyond it, Japan and the Pacific Ocean.
Beijing proclaims that China's rise is entirely peaceful and it has no interest in hegemony, but analysts say its goal is to surpass the naval capability of Japan's Self-Defense Forces and ultimately rival the US Navy, masters of the Pacific.
That will require a number of aircraft carrier battle groups, developed over decades and costing billions of dollars.
The 300-metre (1,000-foot) Liaoning -- a Soviet-era vessel Beijing bought from Ukraine -- was commissioned in September 2012, and officers have acknowledged that it is not yet ready for combat, with naval fighter pilots taking years to train.
But it is only the first Chinese vessel of its type. Analysts say future carriers will be entirely Chinese-made and ultimately nuclear-powered, vastly extending their range.
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) is already the world's largest standing military, and when Chinese President Xi Jinping went on board the Liaoning last year he spoke of building "a powerful people's navy".
Xi has made a point of visiting several military bases since taking office and has said that "being able to fight and win battles is the essence of strengthening the military".