China’s Military Rapid Modernization A Shock To US

China’s efforts to modernize its military force following its economic development has attracted attention from US.

One of the fruits of these efforts is the Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter jet, which made its maiden flight on Jan. 11, 2011, surprising the visiting US secretary of defense Robert Gates, who previously predicted that China would not be able to conduct a test flight of a new-generation fighter plane until 2020.

J-15 fighter takes off from the Liaoning aircraft carrier
J-15 Fighter Takes off from the Liaoning Aircraft Carrier

The maiden flight of the J-20 was followed by the debuts of the Shenyang J-31 stealth fighter jet, China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, new attack choppers and new ground-to-ground medium-range missiles, according to the Guangzhou-based South Reviews magazine.

The intensive rollout of cutting-edge military equipment has been made possible by the country’s economic development and expanding military outlay, at double-digit growth rate annually over the past 20 years, the magazine reported.

A Brazilian scholar cited by the magazine said that in contrast to the confidentiality and isolation which characterized Russia’s military technology system, China’s military technology system is more open, combining innovation originating from both the military and civilian sectors, similar to the military industry of the US. The Chinese military started to focus on innovation in the 1990s, shedding reliance on diplomacy and enabling it to transfer the fruits of its research into the civilian sector, especially in the fields of electronics and aviation, he said.