Just reminding, Softbank Japan and Yahoo are the largest shareholders in AlibabaI wouldn't call SCMP a western mouthpiece per se. It is owned by Alibaba after all.
As for the number of carriers, consider this.
China has 4x the population of the USA.
And most would agree that at some point in the future, China would have an economy twice as large. The Australian government has the Chinese economy growing from 30% larger to twice the size in terms of actual physical output of goods and services in 2030-2035.
And let's say the US continues to spend 3.2% of GDP on the military and split this equally between the Army, Navy and Air Force.
China is already secure on land, so let's say Chinese Army spending increases to match the US.
In the air, the Chinese Air Force has about 2000 combat coded aircraft like the US Air Force. If Chinese Air Force spending increases to match the US, then that would eventually result in a modern stealthy aircraft fleet, which should be more than sufficient to dominate the 1st Island Chain.
Then the main challenge becomes the US Navy, and the goal would be to deter them from even getting involved. If China were to aim for a Navy some 50% larger than the 11 US carriers, that would imply the equivalent of 16 Chinese nuclear supercarriers.
Yet in terms of overall military spending (Army, Navy, Air Force), China only needs to spend 17% more than the US.
If the US is spending 3.2% of GDP on the military, the Chinese figure is only 1.8% of GDP. That is even less than the 2% consistently seen over the past 20+ years.
The implication is that what we've seen so far, is still the early stages of China's military buildup. And that this buildup is easily affordable.