Be Proud instead of Ashamed of the Ability to Copy Others’ WeaponsPosted: November 19, 2016
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
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.
Mil.news.sina.com.cn 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 mil.news.sina.com.cn article “Depth column: Russian expert’s analysis of the reasons why China has not commissioned its J-16 fighter jet yet”.