Be Proud instead of Ashamed of the Ability to Copy Others’ Weapons

I often got angry comments from my readers on foreign media’s allegations that China’s advanced weapons are but copies of others’ advanced weapons. Those readers are certainly pro-Beijing and are, therefore, unhappy when others tried to depreciate China’s achievements.

However, I believe that instead of being upset, they shall be proud of China’s ability to copy others’ advanced weapons.

Copying Is by No Means Easy

First page of Liu Gongquan's well-known Xuanmi Tower inscription

First page of Liu Gongquan’s well-known Xuanmi Tower inscription

When I was young more than six decades ago, great importance was attached to an educated person’s handwriting. We primary school students had to hand in one page of Chinese traditional handwriting done with brush everyday that copied from the calligraphy of well-known Tang Dynasty (618-907) masters. For six years I copied Liu Gongquan’s well-known Xuanmi Tower inscription, first page of which is shown above. I am no calligraphy lover but was quite satisfied with my handwriting as it looked quite similar to Liu’s calligraphy until I was criticized in secondary school by a classmate who was a calligraphy fan. He said that my handwriting was similar to Liu’s only in appearance but not in spirit. It lacked the force in Liu’s calligraphy. The result of my six year of hard copying of Liu’s calligraphy is quite poor.

Copying Advanced Weapons Extremely Difficult if Not Impossible

Copying an advanced weapon is far more difficult as unlike calligraphy that shows everything on the surface, one shall have thorough knowledge of what he copies and the industrial capacities to produce the materials and parts for that in order to make copies that are similar to the weapon in advanced functions and performance rather than appearance. says in its article on November 12 that Russian political and military expert Alexander Khramchikhin has published two articles on Russia’s Military-Industrial Courier weekly on China’s efforts in copying Russian warplanes.

He says the aircraft manufacturers in northern China remains at the stage of copying Russian fighter jets. It is quite difficult to make real breakthrough in tackling technological difficulties and obtaining the ability to assimilate and apply the technology in China’s own ways. It is especially so in really beginning some improvement in the copy. For example in designing the wings of China’s J-15 carrier-based fighter jet by copying Russian Su-33, China found it very difficult to improve the wings.

For another example, J-16 was developed after China had fully studied and learnt from Russian Su-27 series of fighter jets. China conducted profound improvement on the basis of Russian Sukhoi Su-30MKK. However, five years after J-16’s maiden flight, mass production of it has not begun yet.

Why? Even the successful production of a prototype and finalization of the design of J-16 is not the end of trouble. Khramchikhin points out that China has to standardize the warplane’s parts and components and make lots of modes and special production devices for mass production of the warplane. It takes a lot of time to do so.

China copies a Russian warplane after it has bought the warplane and dismantled, studied and analyzed it in details fully. Still, the reverse engineering is very difficult. In fact, quite a few countries have imported advanced Russian warplanes but none of them except China are able to copy the warplanes.

As for the allegation that China has copied US stealth fighter jets F-35, F-22, etc. that China cannot buy any, not even come close to study them. As a Chinese, I will be really happy if China is able to copy them. Copying Russian warplane is so difficult when China is able to have one and dismantle it to study it in details closely.

If Chinese engineers had been able to make a copy of the best of US warplanes based merely on some stolen documents, they would have indeed been very rare geniuses. I would have been really happy that China has such wonderful copy masters.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on article “Depth column: Russian expert’s analysis of the reasons why China has not commissioned its J-16 fighter jet yet”.


9 Comments on “Be Proud instead of Ashamed of the Ability to Copy Others’ Weapons”

  1. Combo Jaxx says:

    You know Pablo Picasso had a saying: “Good artists copy, great artists steal” and even Steve Jobs espoused this mantra.


  2. Eastern Looking Glass says:

    Kindly do not use the word “Chinamen”. It is used as an insult. Why propagate it?


  3. Eastern Looking Glass says:

    Where science and technology is concerned, it’s NOT copying; It’s replicating. All new discoveries or theories have to be vetted and approved by peers in the scientific world. Seldom does one have a monopoly on on scientific or technological discoveries. You may have a patent on a method but you have no patent on knowledge. It is shared. All aspiring scientists and researchers, whether they also be from professional fields such as medicine or engineering or whichever disciplines, have to present their scientific or research papers such as Nature or Science Journal or whatever national science journal in their home country, and these theories or discoveries are shared worldwide amongst the scientific community. Most scientists and researchers will attempt to replicate the presented researched results or theories and give their own conclusions and thoughts to the matter. It is a rigorous discipline.

    The point is that at this stage where China has many thousands of qualified scientists and researchers, it is becoming meaningless to repetitively brand China as a copycat. It is meaningless. It is a cheapshot from malicious propagandist writers from Amerika and its bias mass medias. More so when you consider the thousands of engineers graduating each year too, from Chinese universities and technical institutes.

    Just as other non Chinese scientists and researchers replicate Chinese scientists and researchers’ discoveries and theories, so do Chinese scientists and researchers replicate the results or theories of other non Chinese scientists and researchers’ discoveries. Knowledge is fine but the key is applying engineering skills to put these discoveries and theories to application and practical use. And it so happens, China has a growing advantage in this area.

    So, to all the malicious shameful Amerikan Obama-Hillary-CIA directed writers, speakers, and mass medias responsible for all the libel, disinformation and misinformation, it’s time you stop. I hope your President-Elect Mr Trump, nationalize your mainstream medias and then privatize the ownerships to the investing public such that no one person owns 5% of the shares and that there is an impartial ombudsman-like or congressional panel to oversee the mass medias social responsibility. And at the same time, give a huge shakeout of those writers in the think-tanks, universities, NGOs, trolls and sockpuppets, etc, who are on the CIA payroll; That their funding is made to ceased immediately/ I hope Mr Pompeo is listening. Stop creating tensions, hatred and conflicts. Cut the propaganda and lies function out from the CIA.


  4. johnleecan says:

    So many people complaining China made products are no good, easily broken, bad quality, copycats, yet they can’t stop buying made in China. Why? Because of China products, hundred of millions of people can now easily afford many things they can’t even imagine of owning.

    So cheap yet these people keep on complaining when buying China products and haggling for even cheaper price. Even very rich people are so stingy asking for lesser price.

    Now, if China made products are of bad quality, why are there many nations hyping about China’s military build up? Why is the US Navy only doing innocent passage on China’s islands claim on SCS? Maybe the Americans are afraid that the Chinese navy are going to fire thousands of Louis Vuitton bags and the American sailors will be too busy grabbing the items with the sailors drooling and thinking of how much they are going to earn while the Chinese board their ships and take Americans hostage and commandeer their ship. Yeah, that must be it.


  5. Lin says:

    Thumbs up 😊


  6. Chin KwaaiLan says:

    Such disparaging remarks are meant as a put down. Due to requirements of aerodynamics and laws of physics, aircrafts cannot differ much in shape and design. China’s scientists and engineers are certainly masters in reverse engineering. And this is no mean feat.
    Espionage has another use. It enables one to counter the capabilities of the adversary.


  7. Simon says:

    What important for China is to copy the good and not the flaws. Not everything from the West is the best so it impotant for China to innovate too. I call it inspired but not direct copy. The F22 is flawed because of high maintenance cost and time to get fixed, its coating is flawed because of it toxic nature. The F35 is just flawed all over. China should only get inspiration from what works and use innovation to replace that which is a failure in Western design.


  8. Steve says:

    ‘Wisdom is a Gain, Cannot be learnt’— there is no such thing as a Bachelors, Masters degree or PHD in Wisdom. Otherwise we will All be playing Buddhas and Gods due to our transcendental wisdom.

    On the other hand;

    ‘Knowledge can be acquired by practical experience or developed thru scholastic achievements’

    When knowledge or information acquired is Correct, it has to be used NOT discarded…After all it’s only a worldly attainment.

    As the saying, white hairs don’t make a wise man. It’s All about practical experience, imitating, copying, innovation, creating and learning from others and vice versa. In history, China has the world’s greatest philosophers, creators and innovators. Copying is a Necessity in Research and Development.