China is Winning the Asian Arms Race
By admin June 16, 2017

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Described as “a ship which can fly and also an aircraft which can swim,” China’s newest military innovation is the world’s largest amphibious aircraft. The Jiaolong AG600 seaplane is comparable in size to a Boeing 737 at 37 meters long and a 38.8-meter wingspan. Designed by the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) for marine rescues and fighting forest fires, the Jialong AG600 or Water Dragon fills a major gap in Chinese military capability.

Reportedly, the aircraft only requires water 2.5 meters deep for landing and takeoff, allowing for easy transport of military personnel and supplies to Chinese controlled Islands in the South China sea. Capable of long-range patrols, anti-submarine warfare, and mine-laying, the plane may deter opponents of and competition over territorial expansion in the contentious area.

China’s military modernization program is bolstering domestic production by supporting about 70 different manufacturers and 150 research institutions, as well as accelerating international competition with the so-called “Asian arms race.” In response to China’s marked increase in capability, other regional powers are rushing to develop asymmetric means with the help of the European Union (EU).

Working to prevent excessive imbalances between Chinese military competence and that of other Asia-Pacific nations is not new to the EU agenda. However, as the EU arms embargo on China has proved utterly unsuccessful in curtailing rapid progress of the Chinese arms industry, the Union’s approach to mitigating the Asian military imbalance is gaining criticism. Beijing has also ceased to call on Europe to lift the arms embargo, raising concerns that secondary transfers of European supplied dual-use technologies between Asian countries are boosting the Chinese defense industry. Analysts are now calling for a cohesive EU strategy in Asia that puts individual member interests aside.

China’s recent military strides are worrying officials in the United States as well. Beijing’s military might has historically lagged far behind that of the US, most notably in the maritime arena as China lacked a fully functional blue water navy. Even as Chinese economic growth surpassed that of the US, Washington found solace and security in China’s weak defense capacity. But as US Army Captain J Scott Metz proclaims that other countries’ forces are “tactically better than we are at company level and below,” citing issues of training and “readiness,” China may be a more viable military rival in the near future.

Chinese military expansion is just one element of the country’s newly adopted and uncharacteristically aggressive foreign policy that also includes the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the One Belt One Road project. As China redefines it’s global position, wary Western governments may have to choice but to embrace Chinese power.

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