China‘s unprecedented display of military hardware at the country’s primary airshow was a warning to industry rivals of its global ambitions as a defence manufacturer, analysts said.
By Guy Newey, AFP
A visitor passes advertising for a Chinese-made attack aircraft at the China Airshow 2008 in the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai on November 5. The country’s unprecedented display of military hardware at its key airshow has served as a warning to industry rivals of its global ambitions as a defence manufacturer, analysts have said.(AFP/File/Mike Clarke)
As a pair of its fourth-generation J-10 fighter planes made a first public appearance, buzzing past eager crowds at Airshow China 2008, the trade stands hummed with talk of the new missile systems and other equipment on display.
Some analysts believe China’s ability to copy overseas technology, witnessed in countless industries over the past 20 years, could soon be powering its defence complex.
“Ten years ago they did not have any modern aircraft industry at all, now they have started to produce copies of our plane,” said one Russian defence official, who would only speak on condition of anonymity.
“They will do exactly the same they have done with textiles and toys — learn how to make it, make it cheaper and then undercut the market.”
He said China was possibly 10 years away from developing its own military aircraft engine — it currently uses engines made by Russian defence giant Sukhoi — but once it had, it would stop purchasing overseas technology.
“They will stop buying anything from abroad and push cheap Chinese fighters to the third world countries,” the official added.
While the European Union and the United States continue to have sanctions on the export of military equipment to many of the world’s countries — including China — Chinese manufacturers face few such restrictions.